EMU Profile: Matthew Sexton’s No. 2 is more than just a jersey number

By Charles Post / WLAA

Eastern Michigan trailed Central Connecticut State 29-28 with 18 seconds remaining in the game as the Blue Devils lined up to punt the ball. All they had to do was get the punt off and the Eagles were likely going to lose their second game of the year.

But senior wide receiver Matthew Sexton sprinted off the line, blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown to give the Eagles the miraculous victory on Sept. 21 at Rynearson Stadium.

“We’ve been practicing that all week,” said Sexton, a senior from Clinton, Mich. “We call it chase left. We knew they were going to block down. Without everyone on the whole specialist team, there’s no way it happens. It sets me free, no one touches me, and then it’s just the stuff we practice. It’s just taking the ball off the foot.

“How it bounced up right into my hands I don’t know, that’s a blessing from God. You know, I’ll take it.”

Photo by Isabella Wykowski

It was already a special season for Sexton because of the number of his jersey. Before the season, Sexton was chosen to wear the No. 2 jersey, which was the late Demarius Reed’s jersey number.

Reed passed away on Oct. 18, 2013 due to multiple gunshot wounds. He played wide receiver for the Eagles from 2011-2013.

The Eagles, with the blessing from Reed’s family, decided to pick a senior wide receiver every year to wear the jersey in remembrance of Reed. Sergio Bailey II (2017) and Blake Banham (2018) are the two Eagles to wear the jersey since Reed’s passing.

“(Demarius) Reed was definitely looking out for us on that one. One hundred percent. There’s no way, there’s no way that he wasn’t up there looking out for us on that one,” said Sexton, following the win over Central Connecticut State. “I knew I was going to block it. I just had that in my heart. I think everyone knew it too. It just comes down to execution. We just have to keep improving, keep practicing, practicing hard, doing things like that punt block. We just have to keep working.”

Photo by Isabella Wykowski

Sexton and the Eagles have gotten off to a great start this season, earning a 3-1 record through the first month of the year. Eastern Michigan has wins over Coastal Carolina, Illinois, and Central Connecticut State.

Sexton has 14 receptions through four years, totaling 172 receiving yards, one touchdown, and 12.3 yards per carry. Sexton also has a 54-yard reception and three rushing attempts for eight yards.

With 18 seconds left in the Central Connecticut State game, it felt like the Eagles needed a miracle to pull off the win. And somehow, someway, the player wearing No. 2 pulled it off.

“It’s crazy. It’s something that I’ll remember forever,” said Sexton.