The Eastern Michigan University football team is officially in contention to go bowling after a dominating MACtion win against the university at Buffalo on Tuesday, Nov. 21, closing out the regular season.
It will mark the Eagles’ third consecutive year qualifying for postseason play, which is the first time they have done so in the program's history.
The turning point of this game came on several occasions of first-half fumbles from Buffalo as they struggled to control the ball. EMU won the turnover battle by a wide margin.
After the Eagles jumped out to an early 7-0 lead with a quarterback keeper from Austin Smith (Ellenwood, Ga.), the Eagles would force a Buffalo fumble which led to an 11-play, 80-yard drive by EMU, capped off by a 19-yard touchdown as running back Jaylon Jackson (Burleson, Texas) took a pass from Smith to the house.
On the ensuing kickoff, Buffalo fumbled again as kicker Ryan Kingston recovered the loose ball. This would give the Eagles a good field advantage as they would convert a 29-yard field goal from junior Jesus Gomez (Puebla, Mexico) to extend their lead, to 17-0.
After Buffalo failed to put points on the board, the Eagles would produce an eight-play, 95-yard drive which ended in a Samson Evans (Crystal Lake, Ill.) rushing touchdown to give EMU a 24-0 advantage heading into halftime.
The Eagles forced the Bulls to three first-half fumbles to contribute their largest lead heading into halftime all year.
EMU also totaled 298 yards of offense in the first half, which marked the most yards of offense all year by the team after the first half of play.
In the second half, Buffalo would turn the tables somewhat as they outscored the Eagles 11-0 with one turnover forced, but it wasn't enough as the Eagles' huge first-half lead clinched them the 24-11 victory.
Smith would lead the Eagles' offense as he totaled 141 passing yards and one passing touchdown while adding a rushing touchdown as well. Evans would add 127 rushing yards on 22 attempts and one touchdown.
After clinching a third-straight bowl appearance, postseason play is starting to become normal for this EMU program and its fans.
Since head coach Chris Creighton stepped onto campus in 2014, the EMU football program has been to five bowl games. Before then, the Eagles’ only bowl appearance came in 1987.
The Eagles also lead the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in bowl appearances since 2016 with five berths, and now have added another to their reign.
The program also made history last season as they defeated San Jose State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to capture their first bowl game victory since the 1987 season when they won the California Bowl.
Next up, EMU will await their bowl game bid. Bowls in play for the Eagles include the Bahamas Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Arizona Bowl, and the Quick Lane Bowl.
To stay up-to-date on all things EMU football, you can visit The Echo's website.