On paper, this matchup between the Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-2, 1-1 MAC West) and the Western Michigan Broncos (2-4, 1-1 MAC) looked like it might be a fairly close one, as they were both potential-filled programs with a few flaws here and there.
Alas, football games are played on the gridiron and not in spreadsheets, and the results yielded on Saturday afternoon at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan, showed out just how capable the Eagles are of making a serious run at the MAC West division title— while also exposing a number of issues with the hosting Broncos.
Eastern Michigan started the game by taking the opening drive 75 yards and capping it off with a two-yard run from Samson Evans. Eastern Michigan forced a three-and-out for the ensuing Western drive, then took the next drive 88 yards to be capped off by a Taylor Powell pass to Dylan Drummond to double their lead to 14-0. Samson Evans added to the fun once again in the second quarter, getting his second score of the day on a one-yard run to put EMU up 21-0 with 14:23 to go in the first half.
Needing points urgently, Western Michigan engineered a 66-yard drive which culminated with a one-yard run from La’Daruis Jefferson to bring the game within two possessions. Eastern Michigan would strike twice more to end the half at 35-7.
Western Michigan would open the second half with a 79-yard drive that was finished by a 25-yard pass from Jack Salopek to Corey Crooms. A missed two point conversion would make the score 35-13.
On the kickoff, Eastern Michigan’s Jaylon Jackson would return the ball for 87 yards, finally getting dragged down at the WMU 11-yard line. The Eagles would find pay dirt after Taylor Powell and Hassan Beydoun connected to make the game 42-13. Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan would exchange field goals to make the game 45-16.
Western Michigan got the final score of the game on a Jack Salopek pass to Blake Bosma to make the final tally a bit more respectable at 45-23 with just under fie minutes remaining.
Eastern Michigan’s quarterback Taylor Powell was 20-of-30 for 293 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but he was sacked three times. The Eagle rushing attack was led by Samson Evans with 91 yards and three touchdowns. The bright spot was Jose Ramirez and his four sacks, which set an Eastern Michigan record.
Western Michigan’s passing attack was led by quarterback Jack Salopak who was 15-of-40 for 208 yards, with two touchdowns and no picks, getting sacked seven times. The Western Michigan running attack was lead by Sean Tyler with 45 yards. He was followed by La’Darius Jefferson with 35 yards and the lone rushing score of the day.
This victory for the Eagles makes it four in a row over their cross state rivals, making it the longest winning streak by Eastern Michigan over Western Michigan in series history, with the 22-point deciding margin being Eastern Michigan’s largest in rivalry history as well.
Eastern Michigan returns to Rynearson Stadium next weekend where they will face the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Broncos will host the Ohio Bobcats at Waldo Stadium. Both games are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.