YPSILANTI— The Eastern Michigan University defense led by Chicago native son Pat O’Connor of St. Rita High School totaled 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss as the Eagles beat Morgan State of Baltimore, 31-28. It was the 123rd football opener for EMU. The Eagles had to wait through a 57-minute rain delay along with a last-second field goal attempt by the Bears to give new EMU head coach Chris Creighton his first win.
EMU was led on the ground by Bronson Hill and Darius Jackson, who combined for 187 yards rushing. Hill surpassed the century mark for the 10th time in his career, going 114 yards on 19 carries. Jackson notched a career high in rushing with 73 yards on 17 carries. He also got his most career yards in the air, making five catches for 22 yards. Quarterback Reginald Bell, Jr. led the offense, making his first start of his collegiate career and throwing 11-for-16 with a total of 59 yards.
Morgan State ran much of its offense through the air, as quarterback Robert Council went 18-for-28, throwing 269 yards for three touchdowns, including a 75-yard score. Lamont Brown paced the offense, rushing for 124 yards on 18 carries. The Bears had some great defensive efforts, as four members of the MSU line had at least 10 tackles. Cody Acker led the way with 19, while Delonta Hall added 16, Peterson Janvier had 12, and Paul Eatman, Jr. recorded 11 stops.
Jackson scored EMU’s first TD on a short run at the newly painted grey field called “The Factory”. EMU sophomore Nathan Adams blocked a punt, recovered the ball, and scrambled into the end zone for another Eagle touchdown.
The halftime break had both teams standing at a 21-21 tie.
Brogan Roback took over as the new quarterback for the Eagles. The Morgan State defense keyed in on the running game. With Hill as a decoy, Roback passed to Dustin Creel for two catches for 15 yards to put the Eagles in the red zone. As the Bears turned their attention to Creel after the success of the previous plays, Brumfield rushed for a 14-yard touchdown. This was the second time in his career to score two rushing touchdowns in one game.
With the score tied at 28-28 and facing strong winds, junior Dylan Mulder hit a 42-yard field goal for the Eagles.
The Bears were faced with a sturdy wall of defense on their next drive, capped off with a stellar tackle off a read on a screen pass from Hunter Matt. A weather delay was called with 9:13 to play.
When the game resumed, Chris Moller tried a 55-yard field goal attempt for MSU that went wide, giving the Eagles their first win of the 2014 season. This was also Coach Creighton’s first win as an FBS Head Coach. Before heading to the locker room, the Eagles went around the stadium saluting and thanking the spectators that remained throughout the entire game.
The Eagles will take to the road for five weeks, playing their next contest at the University of Florida, Sept. 6, in Gainesville, Fla. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the new SEC Television Network. The 2014 Eagles include 38 Michigan players on their roster.
Before the game, Mid-American commissioner, Dr. Jon Steinbrecher presented the Cartwright Award to the EMU Athletic Department for excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship. “The Cartwright Award is a unique award in that it recognizes excellence not only on the field of play, but also in the classroom and in community,” said Jon Steinbrecher. “To be selected by its peers for this award is a tremendous honor for Eastern Michigan University. I applaud the student-athletes, coaches and entire staff for this special honor.”
The Cartwright Award is an institutional accolade presented annually to one university in the MAC. A committee with representation from all 12 institutions selected the Cartwright Award winner from nominations submitted based upon the criteria of excellence in academics, athletics and citizenship. The award began in 2008-09 and this is the first time EMU has received the honor. A total of 67 EMU student-athletes earned a 4.0
GPA last year.