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Recap: Eastern Michigan’s upset bid at San Diego State falls short in OT, 23-20

Eagles fall to 2-2 after fateful interception in OT.

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The game ended past 2 a.m. for the folks in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Traveling three time zones west didn’t seem to affect Eastern Michigan (2-2). The Eagles nearly had another road upset win in their pocket, but the victory slipped away in the overtime period. San Diego State (3-1) prevailed over the Eagles on the leg of John Baron II.

The First Team All-Mountain West kicker sunk the 38-yarder down the middle, capitalizing on the Eagles’ crucial turnover on their lone overtime drive. Eastern Michigan quarterback Mike Glass III heaved up a prayer into zone coverage on second and long in the extra period, and San Diego State made a leaping grab to give the offense the chance to seal the game.

Losing in such heartbreaking fashion is nothing new for Eastern Michigan. The Eagles lost six one-possession games in 2017, including three shortcomings in overtime. After falling to Buffalo by seven points last weekend and dropping an overtime game to San Diego State, both of those boxes have been checked for the Eagles in 2018 too.

Despite leading 20-17 before a game-tying field goal by Baron with 1:16 left, Eastern Michigan trailed 17-3. The Eagles’ passing defense experienced several broken coverages throughout the second quarter, when Aztecs’ quarterback Ryan Agnew was able to complete two touchdown passes over of 20 yards.

With an opportunity to extend the lead to three possessions, Agnew threw his only interception on the night, giving Eastern Michigan the sought-after momentum it was seeking. The Eagles turned this opportunity into their first touchdown with 26 seconds remaining before halftime. After a 27-yard touchdown pass to set his team in phenomenal position, Glass ran it in from two yards out to cut the score to 17-10.

Eastern Michigan opened the second half with a long, impressive 75-yard drive to tie the score at 17. Unfortunately for the offensive coordinators, all scoring for the rest of the game would be by way of the kickers. The teams’ defenses proved to be the more spectacular units in San Diego, forcing a combined three turnovers and limiting the run game.

The Eagles broke the knot with about three minutes left on a chip shot field goal by Chad Ryland — the hero of the Purdue game — from 24 yards.

San Diego State, with its back against the wall, started the ensuing possession with favorable field position from its own 42. An Agnew first down pass and a pass interference boosted the Aztecs into Eagles’ territory, but Eastern Michigan’s defense held firm for the rest of the possession.

The Aztecs would have likely won in regulation after completing a long pass into the red zone. However, this play was called back as the receiver was deemed ineligible, stepping out of bounds before the reception.

San Diego State settled for a difficult 50-yard field goal. But with one of the nation’s top kickers (41/47 career, 87.2%), Baron had no problem drilling the crucial kick and tying the game at 20-20.

Surprisingly, Eastern Michigan exclusively called running plays with 1:16 on the clock. Although the Eagles were succeeding on the ground more than through the air, the final drive in regulation was easily stopped by the Aztecs. San Diego State took over around midfield with 21 seconds left, but a Maxx Crosby sack at the buzzer forced overtime.

In overtime, the interception by Glass cost Eastern Michigan an opportunity from upsetting the Aztecs, fresh off of a win over Arizona State. Glass, a junior, completed 9-of-16 passes for 153 yards in the loss. Tyler Wiegers saw action under center too, finishing 8-of-11 for 83.

It’s been two weeks of tough-fought losses to some of the best teams the Group of Five has to offer. Buffalo remains 4-0 while San Diego State’s only loss occurred at No. 7 Stanford on opening weekend.

Eastern Michigan starts 2-2 for the second-consecutive year under Chris Creighton. The Eagles will look to fend off Northern Illinois when the Huskies travel to Ypsilanti next Saturday.