Eastern Michigan finished their regular season on a high note Friday afternoon, by beating their other in-state rival Central Michigan by a final score of 38-19.
With this win, Eastern Michigan wins the Michigan MAC trophy outright for the first time since 2011. (They previously retained the trophy in 2012.) Eastern Michigan also won a share of the MAC West Championship with their win and Toledo’s loss, but they are not going to Detroit, as the head-to-head tiebreaker is with Toledo, who clinched the spot a few weeks ago.
The win was also the eighth of the season for EMU, the first time the Eagles have accomplished the feat since their magical 1987 MAC Championship run, when the Eagles finished with 10 wins.
It was not an easy contest at the start. Both CMU and EMU came out swinging in the first half, with Eastern Michigan opened up the scoring first on a Taylor Powell pass to Tanner Knue for 28 yards. Central Michigan was able to tie it up with a run from Bert Emanuel Jr, from one yard out in response. Eastern Michigan would retake the lead on a Samson Evans run to make it 14-7. Central Michigan struck back once again with another touchdown run by Bert Emanuel Jr., this time from 35 yards out.
CMU blinked, however, with Marshall Meeder missing the extra point attempt to put the score at 14-13, which wound up being the first half tally.
EMU opened up the second half on touchdown pass from Taylor Powell to Andreas Paaske, extending the score to 21-13, suddenly making the extra point attempt that much more vital.
The Chippewas blinked once again later in the third quarter, with Jase Bauer tossing an interception on a broken play in the direction of EMU’s Grant Trueman, who returned the pick for a score— which was penalized for a personal foul. Two plays later, EMU would earn those points back on another Powell pass, this time to Dylan Drummond from 21 yards out for the score.
Jesus Gomez made the game 31-13 on a 31-yard field goal on their next possession, making up for an earlier blocked attempt in the first half.
Central Michigan finally entered the second half box score with a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive set up by a several EMU unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, with Bert Emanuel Jr. running in for another one-yard touchdown to make the score 31-19 in favor of EMU after a failed two-point conversion which ended in an interception.
Eastern Michigan added another touchdown from Taylor Powell late on an 11-yard rush, moments after the team forced its third interception of the day on a late Chippewa drive, to put the game at its final score of 38-19.
In this game, Samson Evans eclipsed the 1,000+ yard rushing mark, and set the program record for rushing touchdowns (12) with one game remaining.
With this loss, Central Michigan falls to 4- 8 overall, missing out on the postseason after losing to Western Michigan last week.
Eastern Michigan expands their record to 8-4 and await their bowl berth. The rumor mill suggests Detroit or Arizona could be the destinations in mind for the Eagles. In my personal opinion, if they had their druthers, I think the team would prefer the warm weather of Arizona versus the nice crowd size of Detroit, but we will see.