Western Michigan (3-6, 2-3 MAC) would score 21 points unanswered to open the scoring in the game, putting the hosting Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-5, 2-3 MAC) in an early hole which proved difficult to crawl out of.
In fact, EMU didn’t score until the 3:29 mark of the second quarter, when Samson Evans broke the plane on a 15-yard read option run. But the brief bit of relief was washed over with a wave of despair, as WMU would score 24 more points from that moment onwards, including four points off safeties and 20 points off turnovers as the Broncos would cruise to a 45-21 shellacking of the Eagles at Rynearson Stadium on Saturday night
The Broncos opened the scoring by marching 76 yards to finish with a three-yard run by Jalen Buckley, and would then double their lead with an up-tempo touchdown pass from Hayden Wolff to tight end Blake Bosma with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Jalen Buckley didn’t wait long to strike again, with a one-yard run to make it 21-0 with 5:42 remaining in the first half. As previously mentioned, Eastern Michigan would finish the quarter off with a 90-yard drive capped by Evans’ run.
After Chase Kline forced WMU running back Kevin King to fumble the ball and Daiquan White recovered to start the third quarter, Eastern Michigan was hit with an illegal block in the back penalty on the return, backing the Eagles up to their own seven-yard line. On the first play of the new drive, Austin Smith— who was previously meant to be an emergency quarterback due to injury— was forced out of the pocket and scrambled. Brian Dooley held a defender in the endzone to try and keep Smith upright, but was flagged, resulting in a safety awarded to WMU to make it 23-7.
EMU’s ensuing safety punt gifted WMU the ball at midfied, but the Eagles managed to force a punt and would make it interesting once again on another sustained drive ending in Samson Evans’ second touchdown of the day. An early two-point conversion attempt failed, putting the score at 23-13.
Western Michigan wasn’t done scoring unconventially yet, however, as Marshawn Kneeland evaded his assignment and crushed Smith in the endzone to force WMU’s second safety of the day and put the score at 25-13 at the end of the third quarter.
(Per WMU Football, two safeties in a game has not happened before in recorded program history. This season is the first campaign since 2011 with two safeties scored.)
The Broncos would score again to open the fourth quarter, with CJ Hester punching the ball in from one yard out to cap a 47-yard drive. The Eagles would offer a big-play counterpunch soon after, as Smith found running back Jaylon Jackson for a 68-yard passing touchdown to bring the score to 32-31 after a successful two-point conversion.
It was all WMU from there in the game’s closing period, as Palmer Domschke would send through two more field goals and Corey Walker would pick up a scoop-and-score after Marshawn Kneeland forced a fumble on a sack of Smith in the late going to put the score at its final tally.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Austin Smith would put up a respectable 15-of-25 stat line, with 231 yards, a touchdown and an interception after the start was given to Ike Udengwu III. Udengwu finished 6-of-10 for 58 yards passing before being benched for Cam’Ron McCoy, who tossed an INT on his only pass attempt.
Samson Evans scored two touchdowns on eight carries, makig up 26 of EMU’s 28 net rushing yards. Fellow running back Jaylon Jackson (four carries, 11 yards) recorded 111 yards on nine catches to lead Eastern Michigan’s receiving corps. JB Mitchell was one receiving yard short of 100 on five receptions.
The Broncos passing attack was led by Old Dominion Hayden Wolff, who finished 15-of-26 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Buckley once again showed his pedigree, running all over the gray field for 138 rushing yards to lead the Broncos. The performance was his third 100+ yard game of the 2023 campaign. The Broncos had 252 yards on the ground overall. The leading receivers for the Broncos each got 50 yards and they were Kenneth Womack and Blake Bosema.
The Western Michigan defense was pretty stellar, with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Marshawn Kneeland was the highlight player of the day, with 11 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and three sacks, notching a forced fumble and scoring one safety as well. Aaron Wofford picked up both of WMU’s interceptions on the day.
The EMU defense was paced by their star linebackers; Joe Sparacio led all tacklers with an astounding 23 tackles on the day, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack. Chase Klilne nearly joined Sparacio in the 20-tackle club, with 19 stops, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Quentavious Scarlett finished with 11 tackles.
Eastern Michigan next travels to Toledo, where they will face the Rockets on Wednesday, November 8th.
Western Michigan gets set for another rivalry game, this time against Central Michigan, set to be played at Waldo Stadium on Tuesday, November 7th.