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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 1 Game Recap: Eastern Michigan 35, St. Francis (PA) 15

It was a shaky start, but EMU managed to dispose of St. Francis (PA) on Thursday evening.

Kenneth Bailey

So I went to my first football game in almost a year and a half. With the COVID restrictions that were going on last year, I didn’t want to shoot from the stands as shooting from the stands at Rynearson is not a particularly pleasant experience. So after taking a season off, I think I needed almost a half to get back in some sort of form of shooting football.

Kenneth Bailey

Now, not going to the games last year didn’t mean I didn’t watch the games. And as I watched the games with piped in crowd music, I realized that college football was missing something very important. Most of the games I watched last year didn’t have the band. It seems like the band is the one thing that distinguishes college football from the pros. It was cool hearing the band, and it was nice to once again go to a game and feel that energy which was missing for so long.

It certainly felt like Eastern Michigan (1-0) missed that energy as well, riding it out to defeat the St. Francis Red Flash (0-1) by a final score of 35-15. I suppose the score shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but then again, it seems like Eastern Michigan has had their hands full with FCS opponents. (Central Connecticut State is still fresh in most EMU fans’ minds, after all.)

Eastern Michigan would open up the scoring on a drive capped by Samson Evans 1 yard run with 6:17 left in the first quarter from the Wildcat formation. It would take a little over 5 minutes for the Eagles to add another touchdown drive capped off by another Evans Wildcat rush up the middle for one yard to double the lead.

Jawon Hamilton, the former UCF and James Madison product, would break the goal line for his first touchdown as an Eagle from two yards out to push the EMU lead to 21-0 at the 12:18 mark in the second quarter. St. Francis would find themselves on the board later in the quarter, breaking the scoring drought with a three-yard run by Marques DeShields to bring the score to 21-7. Samson Evans would find the endzone again with a minute left in the half to make the score 28-7, this time on a right sweep from about three yards out.

After another Eastern Michigan touchdown (this time, from Darius Boone Jr.), made it 35-7, it seems like they took their foot off the gas. St. Francis would get another touchdown and 2 point conversion to make it a 35-15 game but that would be the end of the scoring.

Ben Bryant, making his EMU debut after transferring from Cincinnati, went 8-of-10 for 126 yards as the primary quarterback. Preston Hutchinson, last season’s starter, went 7-of-12 for 63 yards and a pick. The Red Flash’s Jyron Russell would go 9-of-20 for 99 yards and one pick. When it seemed like the game was more or less settled, the Red Flash put Justin Sliwoski in and he would go 5-of-10 for 88 yards. The Eagles leading rusher was Darius Boone with 126 yards. The Red Flash countered with Marquese Shields’ 33 yards.

The Eagles rushed for a total 189 yards to 105 yards for the Red Flash. Eastern Michigan threw for 189 yards in the air versus the 187 yards for the Red Flash. Each team would get one pick, while Eastern Michigan added a fumble recovery. Eastern Michigan found the quarterback four times for sacks, versus the two sacks for St. Francis (PA.)

Granted, my perspective was from the viewfinder, but it seems like there are some things that Eastern Michigan needs to work out. It was probably a good thing they were able to tune up against St. Francis as they face a challenge next weekend when they travel to Camp Randall to face the Wisconsin Badgers.