The Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-3, 1-2) won their first conference game of the year with a last-minute victory over Western Michigan (4-4, 2-2) as sophomore quarterback Preston Hutchinson earned his first career start and led the team with 357 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles won 34-27. Hutchinson started in place of injured Mike Glass III.
“Super proud of our program right now. We have had a rough couple of weeks and I guess what we talked about Sunday night was being down two games in the MAC and feeling as though we weren’t our true selves,” said EMU head coach Chris Creighton. “And we had an opportunity to play Eastern Michigan football.”
The Broncos got on the scoreboard first as LeVante Bellamy found the end zone from eight yards out. Eastern Michigan would answer, though, as Chad Ryland knocked through a 31-yard field goal. Both teams would score a touchdown in the second quarter as Bellamy scored from two yards out before Dylan Drummond caught a one-yard pass from Hutchinson.
Western Michigan led 14-10 at halftime.
WLAA PHOTOS – Homecoming
The third quarter went back and forth as Eastern Michigan jumped out to their first lead of the game when Hutchinson scored on a six-yard rush. The Broncos responded seven minutes later when QB Joe Wassink found Corey Crooms for a 38-yard touchdown. Ryland added his second field goal of the game which cut Western’s lead to 21-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
Eastern Michigan got the ball back with 10 minutes remaining, down by one, and had one of their best drives of the season. Hutchinson led the Eagles down the field on an 83-yard drive that took nine plays and took four minutes off the clock. The drive ended with a 29-yard TD pass to Quian Williams.
The Broncos refused to let up as Bellamy found the end zone for the third time. Western Michigan went for the two-point conversion and failed. The Eagles took the ball over with 1:56 left in the game, trailing 27-26. Hutchinson led his team down the field on another impressive drive, this one ending with a beautiful touchdown pass to senior Matthew Sexton.
“It was an unbelievable feeling when Matt came down with that ball. I haven’t played in three years since high school so sealing the deal with that pass, I can’t even describe how good of a feeling it was,” said Hutchinson. “The sky is the limit. I think they all do a great job running their exact routes. Guys just continued to make plays like they had all day.”
The Broncos had less than a minute to try and score and either tie or win the game but on the first play of the drive, Wassink threw a deep ball into triple coverage and it was picked off by Jeff Hubbard, sealing the win for the Eagles. Wassink finished with just 192 yards in the loss.
“We played really well together today. We can’t get big headed,” said senior defensive back Vince Calhoun. “They came out with a good game plan but I thought we did a good job. They had just 200 passing yards which is good for a quarterback that is a good passer. I thought we played well and we got the stops that we needed.”
Creighton touched on his feeling after the win: “That was a fun locker room because they know that they played the game the right way tonight and not perfect, but at a high level. I’m really proud of them. It feels really good. Of course you want to win but I’m really stuck on playing the way we want to play. I thought it was a really good college football game.”
The Eagles return to action on Saturday, Oct. 26 against Toledo.