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EMU Celebrates Biggest Win Over WMU in Rivalry History
Eastern Michigan wins its fourth-straight over Western Michigan for first time.
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Final: Eastern Michigan 45, Western Michigan 23
Eastern Michigan came off the bus and dominated from start to finish against Western Michigan in Saturday’s road rivalry contest.
EMU received the opening possession of the game and scored three straight touchdowns. QB Taylor Powell and WR Dylan Drummond, both back from injuries, led EMU’s offense on some big aeriel plays. WR Darius Lassiter was leaned on when the offense needed to make chunk plays in a hurry and DE Jose Ramirez set a new school record for sacks made in the game.
EMU got up to a 35-7 lead through the first half and held on to beat WMU 45-23, the largest win for Eastern in the series history. EMU’s previous best win in the series came way back in 1930 when EMU won 19-0. In the modern era, EMU’s best win in the series was by 18 points (42-24) in 1991.
“What we need to to is stack success, stack victories, games in the fall, that's what our seniors talked about last January,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said after the game. “This is the first time that we've done it, first time we've gone back-to-back weeks with victories.
“Our guys just always respond to challenges. That's just how they're wired.”
EMU, winners of the previous three matchups, is now riding its first four-game wins streak over WMU in the rivalry series.
For the season, Eastern Michigan sees its record improve to 4-2 overall (1-1 MAC), its first 4-2 start since 2016.
Jose Ramirez sets EMU sack record
Eastern Michigan’s defense hasn’t applied a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season long, but Ramirez, a team captain set a new school record to help change the team’s image at the midpoint of the season.
The school’s previous record for total sacks by an individual in a game, dating back to 1998, was three. That’s a feat that’s been done five times, but Ramirez became the first in EMU to get to the quarterback four times.
Ramirez will get to hold the record, but he wasn’t the only one getting in the Bronco backfield. Tim Grant-Randall, Luke Cameron, Jordan Crawford, Peyton Price, and Melvin Swindle all recorded full or half sacks as well for the team to finish with seven total sacks.
All told, WMU just didn’t have enough juice in its plays to get past EMU’s defense. The Broncos ran 76 plays for 299 yards, an average of 3.9 yards per play; they averaged 2.5 yards per rush and 5.2 yards per pass attempt.
Taylor Powell, Dylan Drummond back at it
After missing some games with injuries, Powell and Drummond both returned to play for EMU’s offense.
Powell had missed the last two games with injuries suffered at Arizona State, and Drummond missed three games for getting hurt at Louisiana.
The quarterback and wide receiver hooked up on the opening drive of the game for a long play to put their offense inside the red zone to set up Samson Evans’ first of three rushing scores of the day. After Evans’ second trial of goal-line rushes when nowhere on EMU’s second drive, Powell found Drummond in the end zone for a simple toss and score — Drummond’s first of the year.
Thanks to such a huge lead by halftime, EMU didn’t ask Powell to throw it any more than 30 times in the game and completed 20 of his throws for 293 yards and 3 TD. All four of Drummond’s receptions came in the first half, and finished with 49 yards.
Darius Lassiter continues to improve
After his first career score with the new team last week against UMass, Lassiter was looked upon early and often to help give EMU its early lead.
Powell included Lassiter in the passing attack early in the game and helped make him the game’s leading receiver: six catches for 104 yards and a 38-yard touchdown right before halftime. The TD catch was Lassiter’s second of the season after scoring for his first time last week vs. UMass.
“He's just wired the right way,” Creighton said of Lassiter after the game. “Our receivers, we ask them to really learn football and he's a quick learner. He's obviously very talented, he's unselfish and he just fits perfectly in that room.”
Mickey Rewolinski helps make room for Samson Evans
For the offensive linemen blocking in front of him, starting right guard Alex Howie went down with an injury in the first drive of the game. In his place, Wisconsin native Mickey Rewolinski played in his third career game.
When EMU opted for a run play after Drummond’s long reception, Evans ran the ball right behind Rewolinski’s blocks to give the game its first score.
Evans entered the game as the MAC’s leading rusher with 540 yards on the year, and finished the game with just 90 yards on the ground, but had three scores behind Rewolinski and the rest of the O-line’s blocking in the first half.
EMU red zone perfection snaped
The Eagles came into Kalamazoo as one of six schools nationally to be perfect inside the red zone this season until this game.
After all of Evans’ TD runs and a 7-yard TD catch by Hassan Beydoun in the third quarter, EMU was 24-for-24 inside the red zone for the season.
In the third quarter, kicker Jesus Gomez lined up for a 37-yard field goal try from Western Michigan’s 16-yard line and missed his first kick of the year when the ball hit the left post of the upright.
Now, EMU is 24 of 25 on its red zone tries this season.
Not that the missed field goal by Gomez was the deciding factor of this game, but he still redeemed himself on Eastern’s next drive when he made a 42-yard kick, a new personal best for him.
Five, final stats
Between WMU’s many dropped passes and inconsistent play from its QB otherwise, Jack Salopek went 15/40 passing (37.5%).
Hassan Beydoun’s TD reception was largely set up by Jaylon Jackson’s only kick return of the game. Jackson returned a second-half kickoff 87 yards before he was brought down at WMU’s 11-yard line.
Beydoun finished with three catches for 57 yards.
WMU’s running backs, Sean Tyler and LaDarius Jefferson, combined for 80 yards on 23 carries, Jefferson scored once in the second quarter to break EMU’s 21-0 lead.
There were 23 total penalties for 209 total yards. EMU penalized 11 times for 91 yards, WMU was flagged 12 times for 118 yards.