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2016 MAC Football Recap: EMU fends off CMU in final moments to win 26-21

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The Eagles swoop in with a strong passing attack to get their first win against CMU since 2011.

Kenneth Bailey

The storybook season continues for the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Brogan Roback connected with Sergio Bailey III on a 24-yard touchdown with 24 seconds to go in the game to secure a last-second 26-21 win against in-state rival Central Michigan at home.

The Eagles led for most of the game, never trailing until the 2:34 mark in the fourth quarter after a seeming 40-yard dagger touchdown by Devon Spalding on a fourth-and-one play for CMU.

Roback finished with 355 yards on 24-of-37 passing, tossing two touchdowns and an interceptions on the day. Bailey III was the leading receiver for the Eagles, with 104 yards on six receptions and the game-winning score. Dieuly Aristilde was a key contributor on the final drive for EMU, reeling in two big-chunk plays. He finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.

Blake Banham, who got the start over Ian Eriksen, got his first 100-yard rushing game of his career, finishing with 120 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Paul Fricano was 2-of-3 on field goals.

Devon Spalding provided all of the offense for the Chippewas, returning from a bad collarbone injury to lead the Chippewas with 116 total yards and three touchdowns on the day.

Cooper Rush once again failed to reach the 269-yard threshold, a number he has failed to hit since the loss of top receiver Jesse Kroll. Rush finished with 256 yards, no touchdowns and one interception on 21-of-35 passing, often misfiring on medium-to-deep passes. Corey Willis racked up a game-high 125 yards on a game-leading 7 receptions but did not score. Mark Chapman (3 catches, 40 yards) was the next-highest receiver for the Chippewas.

Amari Coleman and Jerimiah Harris had interceptions for CMU and EMU respectively.

The win was the first for the Eagles over the Chippewas since Oct. 2011. Both teams now await their postseason fates, as EMU is virtually guaranteed a bowl at 7-5 (4-4 MAC), while CMU will have to hope for a bit of luck standing at 6-6 (3-5 MAC).