Eastern Michigan Falls Short at Kent State, 27-23
Eagles open up the season with a road loss, but it didn't have to be this way. Too many chances left behind by the EMU offense (and Kent State might've been given one too many).
Images via Eastern Michigan Athletics
Welcome to The Ypsilanti Eleven! Eastern lost last night’s road opener 27-23, and it’s back to the drawing board to see how the Eagles can rebound from an 0-1 start to the year. We’ll look back on last night’s contest and other scores around the Mid-American Conference.
If you like MACtion, then consider subscribing to this newsletter for free with the button below. If you’re not a fan of MACtion, then maybe you should have your pulse checked by an actual medical professional.
Final: Kent State 27, Eastern Michigan 23
The Eagles showed up for a hard-fought game against Kent State, but ultimately fell short on Wednesday night. Kent State’s now winners of its last five games dating back to last year while EMU has lost its last three games (twice by Kent State).
The Dustin Crum-to-Isaiah McKoy connection continued to be Kent State’s bread-and-butter, which paid off huge for the Flashes in the first half but not as much in the second half. Kent State’s offense crammed in 300 yards of offense in the first half to reach 20 points by halftime, and the Eagles responded well in the second half by forcing the Flashes to punt on three straight possession in the second half.
The problem is that it should’ve been four times
Eastern didn’t have many penalties (two, 30 yards), but there’s one that it wishes it could’ve avoided. After Kent State, down by three with third-and-15, failed on a deep pass from Dustin Crum to Isaiah McKoy, the Eagles received a non-playing penalty. The officials flagged EMU for “making contact with an official in the white zone” which sounds like a petty thing screw a team over for, especially since it didn’t look like there was any heated situation going on over on the sidelines. It, from home, looked like Chris Creighton might’ve run into the sideline official during Crum’s deep pass. It wasn’t any of the player’s faults, but Kent State was awarded 15 free yards, a first down, and you’ll never guess what happened soon after.
Had the charity drive from the officiating crew not happened, then Kent State would’ve been forced to punt for its fourth time of the second half, and probably would’ve been enough for the Eagles to hold on for a win.
Still, EMU squandered other opportunities
EMU’s opening drive of the game started at midfield thanks to a quality kick return by Quian Williams, but the Eagles picked up only eight yards and finished the drive with a turnover on downs. Kent State followed up with an 8-play scoring drive to make it 13-0.
After a crucial interception helped give EMU the ball midway through the second quarter, an 8-play drive went as far as 18 yards, and ended with a missed 52-yard field goal try.
Since Chad Ryland missed the PAT kick after the first-quarter touchdown, EMU went for two after it scored again in the third, but the rush attempt from freshman D.J. Smith was no good.
And then we can add a pair of interceptions in the second and fourth quarters to the list of bloopers for the EMU offense.
Hutchinson’s first season-opener
Preston Hutchinson had an okay opening game, but a lot to work from for the remaining five games on the schedule. Through the air, he was 21-of-35 passing for 241 yards (6.9 yards/attempt) with two touchdowns (both to Thomas Odukoya) and two interceptions. The offensive line didn’t keep him very clean either with four sacks against him.
Hutchinson’s two favorite targets of the night: Hassan Beydoun and Tanner Knue.
Beydoun led the team with nine receptions for 112 yards. Knue, a former high school teammate of Hutchinson’s, and the aforementioned Williams each had four receptions on the night for 96 combined yards.
More EMU player comments
Thomas Odukoya? More like Thomas O2koya amirite?
Not only is TE Thomas Odukoya wearing #2 to keep the honor of Demarius Reed alive, but he also had his first two career touchdown grabs against the Flashes.
The first came in the first quarter to make it a 13-9 game, then another in the third for EMU to take its first lead of the game at 23-20.
Those touchdowns were Odukoya’s only receptions of the game, for a total of eight yards.
I’ve got more jokes! Here’s another one: AlvINToski LaFleur
For as many great highlights Dustin Crum adds to his resume, Lafleur made a clutch, red-zone interception in the second quarter — the second INT of the safety’s career. LaFleur returned it for 43 yards, and also contributed with three tackles on the night.
Darius Boone starts fast, helped off
The good news for Darius Boone Jr.’s first career start is that, thanks to a 34-yard run to set up EMU’s first scoring drive of the season, he was able to get 52 rushing yards in the first quarter.
Bad news is that Boone went down and sat some plays out in the second quarter. After he was re-inserted to start the second half, he was helped off the field after he was tackled on the first play. The running back did not return to action.
Boone finished the game with 68 rushing yards on nine carries: and actually finished as the team’s leading rusher too.
D-line made some plays (in the second half)
Turan Rush is the only Eagle to come through with a sack on the evening with two total tackles for loss. Also, Redshirt-freshman Alex Merritt and Mikey Haney teamed up for another tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Kent State’s offensive line came into the game with much more experience than EMU’s defensive line, so it wasn’t too surprising to see the Flashes win at the point of attack so often in the first half. But EMU cleaned up its act and the D-line made crucial second and third-down stops to force Kent State to punt as often as it did.
WLB Terry Myrick led the Eagles with 10 tackles
FS Russ Vaden finished second on the team with eight tackles (most on the team with seven solo)
Rush and MLB Tariq Speights each added QB hurries on Crum.
QB-for-now Jairus Grissom had limited playing time, and picked up a first down with his feet on a fourth-down try. On the ledger, he had four carries for nine yards.
Both of Jake Julien’s punts (86 yards) were downed within Kent State’s 5-yard line, and the Flashes scored on neither of the drives that followed.
Chad Ryland made a 34-yard field goal, but missed a 52-yarder. He’s now 26-for-41 all-time on field goal attempts.
I had no idea WR Donivan Wright was even on the team until he caught the two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter. That was a fun introduction.
MAC Football Scores: Week 1
Miami 38, Ball State 31
Gabbert knocked out
Brett Gabbert, last year’s MAC Freshman of the Year, was knocked out after a head-to-head hit by Ball State safety Bryce Cosby, which sent redshirt-sophomore A.J. Mayer in the game for emergency duties. Mayer didn’t flinch and threw three touchdown passes on 24 throws, didn’t turn the ball over, and led to his RedHawks to a much-needed win over the Cardinals.
Drew Plitt’s big day
Ball State’s quarterback had himself another promising day with 309 yards passing with one TD passed to fellow senior Justin Hall — his fifth career game with at least 300 yards through the air. He was able to help keep drives alive (15 of team’s 26 first downs via passing) to let Caleb Huntley and Hall carry the ball into he end zone to finish drives off.
For as tough as Miami’s defense is, the Cardinal offense was able to move the ball better than I had expected it to.
Ball State yards/play 2019: 6.11
Miami yards/play allowed 2019: 5.27
Ball State yards/play last night: 6.83
Buffalo 49, NIU 30
Patterson sets school record
Jaret Patterson now owns the Buffalo school record for career rushing touchdowns with 35. He scored twice against NIU, and here’s the 56-yarder he put on to have the record:
Three defensive scores by UB
Buffalo scored three times with its defense in the second half to make things even more out-of-hand than necessary.
Tim Terry recovered a fumble for 46 yards and a score (score: 28-16).
Isaiah King, same thing, took a fumble 42 yards for a score within a minute of the last scoop-n-score (35-16).
Kadofi Wright took a 65-yard interception to the house in the fourth quarter (49-16).
Central Michigan 30, Ohio 27
The defending MAC West champs took down Ohio at home to start the season off on the right foot. The Chippewas didn’t have as efficient of an offense as Ohio did (4.9 yards/attempt vs. Ohio’s 5.9).
CMU quarterback Daniel Richardson look the part of somebody who could be really good for this offense, and was trusted with 41 pass attempts, but only connected on 23 of them (243 yards, 1 TD). Kobe Lewis has his six career 100-yard rushing game (112), and had two touchdowns as well.
Ohio’s first game without Nathan Rourke meant that it was time for younger-brother Kurtis to step in for starting duties. He was able to keep feeding Isaiah Cox for 102 receiving yards on the night (and a passing TD) but didn’t have the same success with his feet as his brother would’ve (8 att., -19 yards). Kurtis did put the ball on the ground twice though. He recovered his own fumble the first time, but lost the second one in the third quarter.
Toledo 38, BGSU 3
It’s obvious that Toledo’s the better team here for a lot of reasons. But why didn’t Toledo score more than 38 points if Bowling Green is as bad as it is? The Rockets put up 21 quick ones in the first quarter, went scoreless in the second quarter, then scored 17 in the second half.
Toledo QB Eli Peters: 20/32 passing for 214 yards, 4 TD
Toledo RBs Bryant Koback + Shakif Seymour: 34 combined carries, 167 rush yards, 1 rush TD
BG’s defense stepped up after an early 21-0 deficit, and forced the Rockets to punt four times in the second quarter with three three-and-outs.
Western Michigan 58, Akron 13
Akron opened up the game with an onside kick. It’s awesome and exciting, but don’t these coaches know that that’s a surefire way to get yourself meme’d to death?
WMU QB Kaleb Eleby: 12/16 passing for 262 yards, 3 TD
WMU RBs La’Darius Jefferson, Sean Tyler,, Jaxcson Kincaide, and Christian Singleton all got in the endzone.
WMU WR D’Wayne Eskridge’s still the fastest guy on the field at all times.
Akron rolled out a new starting quarterback (Zach Gibson), but his day was limited in the success he’d see (4.2 yards/attempt).