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2023 MAC Football Week 4 Game Recap: Jacksonville State Gamecocks 21, Eastern Michigan Eagles 0

The Eagles are left looking for solutions after a disastrous trip to northern Alabama.

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

I honestly thought this was one of the games that Eastern Michigan (2-2) would have a chance in. I figured if they played a flawless game and were able to deploy their weapons, they would leave the state of Alabama with a victory. Well, I was wrong.

Jacksonville State (3-1) would strike first with 1:36 left in the first quarter, capping off a 50-yard drive with a 16-yard pass from Logan Smothers to Quinton Lane to put the score at 7-0. It didn’t take long for Jacksonville State to strike again, with a 69-yard drive highlihgted by an explosive 41-yard by quarterback Logan Smothers down the heart of the EMU defense to double the score up at 14-0.

Eastern Michigan’s defense would clamp down after that to try to make the game interesting, but Jacksonville State would still get one last lick in, with a 48-yard drive capped by a one-yard run by J’wan Evans to put the final score at 21-0 with 9:57 remaining in the third quarter.

(A late fourth-and-one conversion attempt at the goal line by Logan Smothers— which would have made the score 27-0 before the extra point— was overturned on replay near the end of the game.)

Eastern Michigan couldn’t get the offense out of first gear all game. The Eagles opted for a rotation of quarterbacks. Starter Austin Smith was 6-of-11 for 53 yards total and an interception, while backup Ike Udengwu wasn’t much better, finishing 7-of-18 for 42 yard and two interceptions. There was a point in the game where it looked like Eastern Michigan was going to score, but back to back sacks took care of that. The Eastern Michigan rushing game wasn’t any better, as it netted just 57 yards.

Jacksonville State’s quarterback Logan Smothers was 9-of-19 for 93 yards, but he didn’t really need to do much as the Jacksonville State rushing game more than made up for that with 295 yards as a unit. Malik Jackson was able to get 127 of those yards, with Logan Smothers in a very close second with 118 yards.

Jacksonville State’s defense really shined with six sacks and seven other tackles-for-loss. For the most part, they were able to blow up EMU’s offense before it got started. I’m not sure how much of that was Jacksonville State and how much of it was Eastern Michigan trying to go east-west against a much faster defense.

If there was a bright spot today, Eastern Michigan punter Mitchell Tomasek was able to average almost 50 yards per punt with a long of 72 yards. He was able to put three of his eight punts inside the 20-yard line.

Eastern Michigan will play Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant next weekend for a league-opening game. I hope it’s is a good game. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Eastern.