FLY THE FLAG: EMU 34, ILLINOIS 31

For the third year in a row, EMU’s football team went on the road to beat a Big Ten team. This year’s victim is Illinois.

EMU almost spoiled it too. An early shootout turned into a mid-game shutout, and Illinois tied the game up with just two minutes to go before a game-winning field goal gave the Eagles the win as time ran out.

The first quarter was a banger. EMU and Illinois kept going back and fourth after the Illini started the game off with an early field goal, followed by some back-and-forth with touchdowns and punts. Then touchdowns again.

Arthur Jackson’s first score was a beauty, then Mathew Sexton’s speed showed for the second. Jackson would add a second score midway through the second quarter to make it a 20-17 game. It would’ve been 21-17, but Chad Ryland missed the PAT. Still, EMU’s defense held Illinois, after the home team scored three times on its first four drives of the game, to scoreless second and third quarters with six forced punts, a fumble, and an interception.

EMU’s defense got to Illinois QB Brandon Peters six times, including one time when Brody Hoying’s 10-yard sack on him nearly turned into a fumble recovery returned for an EMU score.

Mike Glass played as good a game as you could ask of him. Through the air, he was 23-for-36 for 316 yards with three scores and no turnovers. On the ground, if we take out the lone 7-yard sack against him, had nine carries for 37 yards.

Another Chad Ryland field goal and a touchdown run by Willie Parker gave EMU the 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter before finally getting back into the game with a 28-yard touchdown run by Reggie Corbin, then Illinois put together a really critical drive to tie the game up. EMU’s defense had Illinois start its drive out on its own 7-yard line after a Jake Julien punt pinned ’em there. Peters threw three straight incompletions before hitting his receiver for 14 yards on 4th and 10 to move the chains. Then an 11-yard run and 32-yard pass quickly changed the entire tone of the game.

But EMU, which called a timeout before the first play of the game, saved all of its timeouts for this final drive.

Glass opened the drive with three straight complete passes, including a 23-yarder to Jackson to get inside the red zone. EMU kept running the ball and the clock to where it wanted them to be, just for Ryland to hit an easy 24-yard field goal to end the game.

MORE NOTES:

  • EMU had never beaten a Power 5 team until 2017 with the 16-13 win at Rutgers, then last year’s 20-19 winner over Purdue.
  • Ryland hit the game-winning field goal at Purdue, too.
  • Guys with sacks: Turan Rush, Mikey Haney, Thad Abraham, Brody Hoying (two forced fumbles, one recovered), Hunter Andrews, Scott Woo, CJ Hunt and Jeff Hubbard.
  • Safety Korey Hernandez, who came in through the JUCO process, stole an interception.
  • This is the fourth year in a row EMU has started out with a 2-1 record.
  • EMU’s first home game is next week, when it’ll take on Central Connecticut from the FCS ranks.

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