The Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-4, 1-3) came into their matchup against Toledo (5-3, 2-2) looking for their first victory in Toledo since 1999. After four quarters and one overtime period, the Eagles came up just short. Toledo came away with a 37-34 win to keep their MAC East division title hopes alive.
“I’m super proud of the fight we had, the belief that we were going to win,” said EMU head coach Chris Creighton.
The Eagles won the coin toss to begin the game and chose to receive the ball. Mike Glass III, who was returning from an injury after missing last week, started the game for the Eagles. However, the Rockets got on the scoreboard first when Bryant Koback scored from five yards out. Toledo led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
It could have been more, though, as Koback was heading in for a second touchdown before he fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. Toledo added a field goal with 9:50 left in the second quarter. EMU found the end zone for the first time on a 24-yard diving catch from Arthur Jackson III. Chad Ryland made a 29-yard field goal to tie the game at halftime.
In the beginning of the third quarter, it was all Rockets. Ronnie Jones started the half with a 48-yard kickoff return and Shakif Seymour finished the drive with a touchdown. Toledo scored two more touchdowns in the next five minutes as Eli Peters found Bryce Mitchell and then Koback scored from 54 yards out. The Eagles trailed 31-16 going into the fourth quarter.
EMU kept fighting though as senior running back Shaq Vann scored from three yards out to get the Eagles within one score. With 2:35 left in the fourth quarter, Vann scored his second touchdown of the day and tied the game at 31-31. Eastern Michigan even had a chance to win the game on their final drive of regulation but Ryland missed a 33-yard field goal.
The missed field goal sent the game to overtime.
“We got down there, the defense took the ball away if I remember it right, and we’re trying to be conservative but trying to be smart,” said Creighton. “We’re running the ball relatively well inside there with spread sets. You know, we all just totally believe in the snap, hold, kick and we thought we might have a chance to win it in regulation.”
In the extra period, the Eagles offense took the field first and picked up one first down but were unable to score a touchdown. Ryland came in and connected on a 24-yard field goal to put EMU up three points. The Rockets were facing a third down when Peters dropped back and found Drew Rosi in the end zone, scoring the game-winning touchdown.
The final score was 37-34 in favor of Toledo.
“It looked like they hit a corner route. You know, it looked like we were there with the coverage but the guy made a great throw and a great catch. It was a great play by them,” said Creighton. “There’s a lot of hurting people in that locker room right now but our guys love each other and I’ll be really surprised if we don’t bind together and become even stronger after this.”
Glass led the Eagles with 286 yards and one touchdown. Vann had 110 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Quian Williams added 87 receiving yards for the Eagles. Koback had a game-high 259 rushing yards in the win for Toledo. He also had two touchdowns on 32 carries. Seymour finished with 94 yards in the win.
“I’m just devastated for our guys right now,” said Creighton. “I love my team.”
EMU returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 2 against Buffalo.