The day after everybody around the nation heard about the death of Demarius Reed, the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-6, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) still had to strap their helmets and shoulder pads on to go out and play on a cold, gloomy Saturday afternoon in front of their home crowd. Their good friend, the only one smiling in the team photo, was not on the sidelines, but the number 2 jersey still ran out of that tunnel with the rest of the team.
One of the players and team managers held Reed's jersey, led the way through the tunnel onto the sidelines and all of the players went up and touched his jersey before having a moment of silence in his memory.
All things considered, this team still had to cope togeher and take on the Ohio Bobcats (5-2, 2-1 MAC), as scheduled.
Receiving the opening kickoff, Tyler Allen immediately put the Eagles on the board with a 90-yard touchdown return. But the Bobcats responded with ease, putting up 21 points in that quarter with a little help from their offensive line, giving Tyler Tettleton all day to find his receivers.
Tyler Benz found Dustin Creel in the back-right corner of the endzone to lessen the defecit to 7 points (21-14 Ohio lead) heading into halftime.
Early on in the third quarter, the Eagles had to start a drive from their own 1-yard line after Ohio was forced to punt from the EMU 34-yard line. A few tough runs by Hill and a crutial catch by Creel to convert on 3rd down helped build a sustainable drive for the Eagles. Benz would then find Tyreese Russel down the left hashes for a 62-yard pitch-and-catch score, tying the game at 21 a piece.
On their following drive, Ohio was held to a three-and-out, giving the ball right back to Eastern Michigan with momentum on their side. Driving the ball all the way down to the 4-yard line for a 2nd & goal, Benz threw a costly interception in the end zone to silence the Eastern Michigan fans. This ended up being the biggest play of the game.
On the very next play, Tettleton found Chase Cochran wide open down field for an easy 80-yard touchdown pass. His third passing touchdown of the day.
Benz would throw another interception in the third quarter, which caused him to watch the game from the sidelines the rest of the day and watch Brogan Roback and Mark Ianotti get some playing time. The Bobcats would later follow suit, giving Travis Carrie some playing time.
Hill would cap off a 5-play, 91-yard drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Ohio would respond with a pair of rushing scores of their own from Ryan Boykin and Carrie.
Tettleton was the player of the game, completing 23 out of 30 passes for 375 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. He got a lot of help from his receivers in this one, most notably Donte Foster and Cochran. Foster had 11 grabs for 143 yards and Cochran caught 3 balls for 138 yards. Both scored a touchdown.
Conversely, Benz went 12-for-22 for 151 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He only had two completed passes in the second half. He Creel 5 times for 53 yards and a score.
Hill was the offensive leader for the Eagles. The junior carred the ball 23 times for 258 yards with a touchdown. All of the other running backs for EMU totalled 10 carries for 49 yards.
This was definitely one of those games where it was closer than what the scoreboard says. The Eagles played tough, passionate football but just missed their opportunities to get ahead. And it wasn't like these guys were able to sleep easily the night before.
Up next, the Eagles will travel to Dekalb to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies (7-0, 3-0 MAC) and Ohio will take on the Miami RedHawks (0-7, 0-3 MAC) in front of their home crowd.
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