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2023 MAC Football Week 13 Game Recap: Eastern Michigan Eagles 24, Buffalo Bulls 11

The Eagles do enough in the first half to clinch their all-important sixth victory.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 Eastern Michigan at Buffalo Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-6, 4-4 MAC West) traveled to Buffalo, New York on Tuesday evening and made it worth the trip.

Eastern Michigan makes themselves bowl-eligible for the third time in a row by defeating the Buffalo Bulls (3-9, 3-5 MAC East) by a final score of 24-11. All of Eastern Michigan’s points came in the first half, while all of Buffalo’s points came in the second half.

Eastern Michigan would start the scoring with an Austin Smith five-yard run that capped a 62-yard drive to make the score 7-0 early on, with Smith striking again— this time through the air— to find Jaylon Jackson and double up the score to 14-0 thanks in part to a fumble out of the endzone by Buffalo. Eastern Michigan end the half with a Jesus Gomez 29-yard field goal and a Samson Evan rushing touchdown to cap off a 95-yard drive lasting just over two minutes to push the halftime lead to 24-0.

The Bulls would finally hit pay dirt with 4:45 left in the third quarter, with Ron Cook crossing the goal line on a six-yard tun to complete a 56-yard drive. The two-point conversion catch was made by Cameron Ball to put the margin at 24-8. Buffalo would have plenty of drives after the score to try and mount a comeback— thanks in part to a strong defensive performance which had limited EMU to just 34 total yards of offense in the second half prior to the final drive— but a number of failed fourth-down conversions on offense (1-of-7 on the night) and questionable timeout management ultimately doomed them to just a lone Alex McNulty field goal midway through the fourth quarter to put the score at 24-11.

Samson Evans would contribute 130 yards and Jaylon Jackson added 77 yards of his own to Eastern Michigan’s 226 total yards on the ground. Austin Smith looked impressive by going 19-of-27 for 141 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, he didn’t throw any picks.

Buffalo’s Snyder Cole had 135 yards in the air, completing 11-of-26 passes, with no interceptions. Buffalo’s Ron Cook would lead the Bull rushing attack with 43 yards.

At least in the first half, Eastern Michigan looked like the team I was expecting all year. Their running was pretty solid and their passing was consistent. More importantly, they were on the positive end of the turnover battle. They finish the year at a .500 record, and will find out their bowl game soon.