EMU: Eagles struggle to keep up with Central Michigan in MAC loss

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-2, 0-1) fell to the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-3, 2-1) on the road in their conference opener on Saturday.

The Eagles got off to a slow start and were never able to get their footing in the 42-16 loss. Central Michigan was led by star running back Jonathan Ward, who finished with a game-high 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. EMU quarterback Mike Glass III had 193 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the loss.

“We got our butts kicked today from start to finish so hats off to Central Michigan,” said Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton. “I think they played harder in all three phases. That’s what I’m responsible for. We should have been fresh coming off of a bye week. I felt as though we were prepared and what not, and ready to go, but I feel like they were the better team today and that’s one of the many ways that they were better than us.”

The scoring got started less than three minutes into the game as Ward scored from three yards out, capping a seven-play drive that stretched 75 yards. It felt like the Eagles defense wasn’t ready to face a player of Ward’s caliber. Eastern Michigan trailed 7-3 at the end of the first quarter as place kicker Chad Ryland got them on the scoreboard. The second quarter is where the Chippewas blew the game wide open.

CMU quarterback David Moore connected with Kalil Pimpleton, scoring from 80 yards out to give the Chips a 14-3 lead. Just over two minutes later, Moore found Ward, who scored a 64-yard touchdown. The Chippewas led 21-3 at halftime.

Creighton explained why Central Michigan was able to score on explosive plays: “I’ll have to watch the film but it’s going to be that someone blew as assignment. We popped a gap. They were up the middle and someone was not where they were supposed to be. It’s lack of execution because they had some really big, explosive plays and again, I’ll have to go back and watch. But they’re weren’t getting any less than four or five yard gain per carry. They were just moving people.”

The second half was more competitive, but likely because the game was already out of reach. The two teams traded touchdowns throughout the second half as Central Michigan got scores from Kobe Lewis, Ward, and Tommy Lazzaro. Meanwhile, Glass had one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown to Matthew Sexton.

“We just weren’t very good today,” said Creighton.

The Eagles will try to bounce back and win their fourth game of the year against Ball State next week for homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Rynearson Stadium. The Cardinals defeated Northern Illinois 27-20 in their first MAC game of the year.