Eastern Michigan clinches bowl eligibility with dominant performance at Northern Illinois

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-5) football team earned their sixth win of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 2 over Northern Illinois (4-7) in DeKalb, Ill. EMU is now bowl eligible in two consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The Eagles took down the Huskies, 45-17, behind 235 yards and three touchdowns from Mike Glass III.

“It’s a fun locker room for a lot of reasons. We have tremendous respect for the football program here. We believe we’ve been in three straight years of epic battles against the program that has dominated the league for the last couple decades,” said EMU head coach Chris Creighton. “To actually get them once is a big deal for our program.”

Eastern Michigan jumped out to a quick start as they took a 7-0 lead after their first offensive possession. Glass and the Eagles had no trouble working their way down the field, which included an 18-yard rush by senior Shaq Vann. Jairus Grissom also picked up a first down on the drive. Glass capped off the possession with a two-yard touchdown run.

One of the main reasons EMU was able to pull away in this game was because of the strong defensive performance. Eastern Michigan forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Brody Hoying came away with three tackles and two interceptions, which helped the Eagles earn a 14-7 lead at halftime.

“We always talk about turnovers, takeaways, and special teams. We felt as though we had to be physical tonight. The quarterback that started the game tonight is the MAC champion,” said Creighton. “They do a nice job. The guy they played tonight is pretty good. I have to watch the film but it felt like we played complementary football in all three phases.”

As well as the Eagles played in the first half, the game was won in the third quarter. Eastern Michigan had one of their best quarters of the season as they outscored Northern Illinois 24-3 in the third quarter. Vann started the quarter with an eight-yard TD run, before Glass connected with Line Latu and Arthur Jackson III for a pair of touchdowns.

Chad Ryland also added a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Despite the victory, Creighton was frustrated with the Eagles special teams performance. He discussed the unit: “I have to look at it but it was pretty frustrating. They like to fair catch on kick offs so we probably shouldn’t kick them out of bounds. We love Chad though. He nailed the field goal. We had a couple punt returns where we had a penalty.”

Both teams scored one touchdown in the fourth quarter. Grissom extended Eastern Michigan’s lead tp 45-10 with 9:33 left in the game. His three-yard touchdown capped a seven-play drive that took four minutes off the clock. Northern Illinois’ Marcus Childers found Daniel Crawford for the final score of the game as the Eagles won 45-17.

Creighton talked about his team and their goals: “It’s fun to travel with them with the meetings last night and the walk-through today. There’s just good energy. They are really into it. They want really badly to do things that haven’t been done here in a long time. It’s such a good group.”

EMU will look to end the season on a three-game winning streak as they host Kent State on Friday, Nov. 29.

“I mean you can’t get to seven without getting to six. Thankfully there’s still a game left, which is going to be an incredibly difficult challenge for us,” said Creighton. “We’re 100% aware of that. We’re going to try and enjoy tonight. Short plane ride home and then we’re going to start getting ready for that.”