EMU Dominates CMU for Michigan MAC
For the first time in Chris Creighton's nine years leading the team, EMU gets to take home the Michigan MAC trophy (and a share of the MAC West championship).
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Final: Eastern Michigan 38, Central Michigan 19
The Michigan MAC comes to Ypsilanti
First, breathe it in.
It’s been a long season. Take all the time you need for this final score.
Eastern Michigan 38. Central? Just 19 points.
Eastern Michigan might not be going to where it hoped for next week when the MAC Championship comes to Detroit, but winning a big rivalry series at home is a day well spent on Black Friday for this team. Samson Evans had a career day he’ll always remember, the defense came up in huge spots, and this team gets to celebrate with a rivalry trophy for the first time since 2012 — that’s one heck of a deal.
It was senior day for the team, so 15 seniors were honored before the game with their families as customary tradition.
For senior captain Jose Ramirez, a Floridian with Haitian pride, it was the first time he played a college game in front of his mom. Ramirez finished the three of the defense’s five sacks made on CMU’s QBs.
For Michael Foor, a student who walked on with the team in 2020, it was the first time he ever saw the field in a college game. He ran the ball in the final play of the game, didn’t lose any yards either.
For Taylor Powell, the quarterback who was named captain in his first couple months as a graduate transfer, it was a chance to finish the year on top. He hit Dylan Drummond, a former two-star from Cleveland who’s been on the field since he was a true freshman, for a touchdown score in the third quarter.
For 15 seniors, they finally got to experience a Michigan MAC trophy victory in commanding fashion. This 19-point win over CMU is the second-biggest win in the series in the MAC era, and it’s coupled with EMU’s previous win over Western Michigan: the largest point differential in the rivalry’s history.
Add it all up, this is a big trophy victory worth celebrating. EMU had to win the thing outright, and it came away with two of the loudest victories over its rivals in school history.
*Co-Champs of the MAC West
EMU’s win, paired with Toledo’s loss at Western Michigan (20-14), means the Eagles and Rockets finish the regular season with matching 5-3 records in MAC play to lead the West division.
But, let’s rewind: Toledo beat EMU at Rynearson Stadium last month, 27-24. Eastern had its chances then, but fall short of going to Detroit yet again.
Admittedly, getting the co-champion title of anything isn’t much to brag about when you’re not the team actually playing in the conference championship game for everybody to see on TV, however it’s still not not worth noting for EMU.
This is the first time Eastern has ever been in a position where it’s come that close to making the trip across I-94.
That Toledo game stings bad though. As great and monumental as today’s victory is, thinking back to the Toledo loss earlier in the year hurts just as much. The 29-point home losses to Northern Illinois and Buffalo don’t exactly help EMU’s case here, but that Toledo game wasn’t just a 3-point loss in the final score. It was at home, and EMU had the lead in the fourth quarter.
EMU will get to have a co-West championship banner to post wherever it feels, and it ought to. It’s the first time since the MAC introduced divisions that EMU finished somewhere within first place of the West. It took a long time for this program to get there, and better finish against Toledo would’ve finally put this team in the MAC Championship game.
Ok, back to smelling the flowers of a Central win.
Samson Evans: New program leader
When RB Samson Evans entered the game, he was one score shy of breaking the school’s all-time record on the ground, and 51 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard milestone.
As expected, Evans had a career day of a lifetime — 23 carries, 135 yards, and 1 TD.
His 15-yard TD run in the first quarter broke a three-way tie in the record books for most career rushing scores made for EMU. Gary Patton and Anthony Sherrell held the lead with 26 apiece, but Evans became the new frontrunner after his 27th.
In the third quarter, Evans became the 11th player (14th mark in school history) to reach the 4-digit mark, last accomplished by Darius Jackson (2015) and Bronson Hill (2013). For the season, Evans has 1,084 rushing yards on 224 carries with 13 TD scored. His rushing mark currently sits at 11th all-time at EMU, and will need just 4 yards to become the 10th-place rusher.
EMU total career TD scored
31, Gary Patton (1984-87)
28, Anthony Sherrell (2002-05)
27, Eric Deslauriers (2003-06)
27, Samson Evans (2020-current)
26, Larry Ratcliff (1969-71)
3 INTs: Grant Trueman’s pick-six called back
Passing was not a strength for this CMU offense and everybody knew it.
Jase Bauer threw an ugly interception to Joshua Scott in the first quarter. His interception put EMU in great field position and allowed Evans to have his program-setting TD.
Later, Bauer threw a bad pass when heavily pressured by Jose Ramirez and Joe Sparacio to give DE Grant Trueman the first interception of his career. Trueman, in the #0 jersey, returned the ball back for a touchdown, but Sparacio was penalized for an illegal blindside block on the QB to erase the defensive score.
No worries though. Two plays later, Powell connected with Dylan Drummond on a 21-yard pass play for an easy score and widened EMU’s lead to 15 points.
CMU fought back in the final five minutes of the game with a 4-play, 75-yard TD drive to make it a 31-19 game, but CMU QB Daniel Richardson’s pass was caught by EMU’s Russ Vaden. Not an interception in the books, but the EMU senior still made the big stop.
Speaking of, EMU’s Brandon Benson picked off Bauer on with under three minutes to go. That gave EMU the ball on the 11-yard line, and Powell instantly took it in himself for a TD.
Jesus Gomez’s first field goal attempt was blocked by CMU, but had no issue with his 31-yarder in the fourth quarter which brought EMU’s lead up to 31-13 at the time.
Andreas Paaske had to reach back and make a tough catch on a TD pass Powell sent his way; I think even he was a little bit surprised he came away with the catch. That was the second TD score of the young tight end’s career.
CMU’s defensive front was tough to slow down and Powell had to scramble to keep a lot of plays alive. EMU was effective in its short passing game and didn’t have to stretch the field too much (but Tanner Knue did have a nice 28-yard score early on). Powell was 24/36 passing for 266 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. He was sacked twice, and the CMU defense totaled seven tackles for loss on the day.
Not to entirely bury this, but here we finally go: EMU’s 8-4 overall record is the most wins in a season since the 1987 Cal Bowl-winning season when it won 10 games.
This is also the first time since ‘87 that EMU has finished with winning records in both the overall and league-only columns.
EMU’s season isn’t over of course. While it has to suffer next Saturday by watching Toledo play in the MAC title game, it’ll have a bowl game to play for. The team probably won’t find out until next Sunday what their assignment will be.