Playing for pride obviously isn’t the same as fighting for bowl contention, but the Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-7, 2-5 MAC) grabbed their second win in three games, defeating the Miami (OH) RedHawks (4-7, 3-4 MAC) on the road, 27-24.
EMU snaps a nine-game losing streak against Miami which dates back to 1994.
Brogan Roback now an all-time EMU great
The two names that come to mind when discussing the best to ever throw the ball for Eastern Michigan are Walter Church and Charlie Batch.
As a long-time Detroit Lions fan, memories of Batch being one of the last to suit up at quarterback inside the Pontiac Silverdome remain vivid. For Church, it’s a shame that he didn’t have a lucrative professional career, only playing two years in the Arena Football League.
13 years was the difference between Batch leaving Ypsilanti and Roback entering his freshman year. The 23-year-old appeared in a total of 11 games his first two seasons with the Eagles, but found a way to be a mainstay from 2015-17.
Despite all the ups and downs Roback experienced as a starter, such as leading EMU to its first bowl appearance in over 30 years or losing 11 games in 2015, his career will end prominently knowing that he’s now the program’s all-time leading passer.
Roback threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns on the RedHawks, giving him 8,811 career yards, which passes Church at 8,628. He also ran for a score from three yards out.
Turnovers still problematic
When Eastern Michigan traveled to Mount Pleasant last week, it posted a minus-four turnover rate as Roback recorded five interceptions against a vaunting Central Michigan secondary.
The Eagles, coming into Wednesday’s game, ranked 10th in the Mid-American Conference with a minus-five margin. Miami sat right above them with a minus-four.
Roback did throw one interception late in the third quarter inside the RedHawks red-zone, while senior receiver Jaron Johnson lost a fumble with 13 seconds before the second quarter which was the set up for the second touchdown of the night for Miami.
Where was this EMU squad earlier in the season?
Besides the 42-30 loss to Central Michigan on the road, this season has really come full circle for Eastern Michigan, who went on that noted six-game losing streak where the difference was seven points or less in each game.
Not much has changed from last year, where the Eagles nearly knocked off Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl, which makes the woes even more unfortunate.
The string of missed prosperity during that stretch surely had to come to an end sometime. It just so happened when the Eagles became ineligible for the postseason.
Immense potential looms for Ian Eriksen
Eriksen finished out his high school career at Clarkston (MI) as arguably one of the top running backs in the state. I should know because I played on the opposite side of him for two years.
At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, his first opportunity to break out in the collegiate level came last season, where he totaled 771 yards on the ground, averaging 4.2 yards a carry for nine touchdowns.
In 2017, Eriksen’s number of carries have dropped along with his yardage and touchdowns, but after what he did against Miami, next year could be an All-MAC outing.
Finishing with 18 carries for 112 yards, its the third time this season in which the redshirt junior eclipsed the 100-yard mark, as well as the seventh time he’s received double-digit carries.
Eriksen provides a balanced offensive attack that some teams just can’t mirror.
RedHawks eliminated from bowl contention
Miami sat in third place in the MAC East standings, just a game behind both Akron and Ohio for the lead. The possibility of representing the division at the championship game on Dec. 2 at Ford Field remained possible before the loss.
Winning out was a given but the team also needed the Zips and Bobcats to lose next week to stand a chance. Now, ending 2017 with six years and bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season becomes out of the question.
This section of the article likely wouldn’t have been written had it not been for the sack fumble by quarterback Gus Ragland midway through the third quarter. On the very next play by Eastern Michigan, Roback found senior receiver Sergio Bailey II from 10 yards out to up the lead to 10.
The loss tonight also makes the 17-14 come from behind win by Kent State back in October that more gut wrenching for Miami.