Eastern Michigan is eliminated from MAC contention with a loss to the upstart Bobcats.
In game that Eastern Michigan needed to win, they end up losing, by a final score of 34-26.
Things didn’t start well for the Eagles, as the Bobcats were able to score on their opening drive, with Kurtis Rourke finding Isaiah Cox for a 33-yard touchdown strie to go ahead 7-0. Eastern Michigan would strike back to tie up the game at 7-all on the drive capped by a Samson Evans one-yard run for the endzone.
The Bobcats struck back quickly, taking the 14-7 lead on a 40-yard pass from Kurtis Rourke to De’Montre Tuggle. They would tack on a field goal to push the lead to 17-7, with both teams exchanging field goals over the next few possessions to set up the table at 20-13 for Ohio at the half.
Eastern Michigan would open the second half with a drive capped by a five-yard pass from Ben Bryant to Dylan Drummond to knot it up at 20-all.
The Bobcats would strike twice to make it 34 to 20, and put EMU’s backs against the wall. Eastern Michigan would make it interesting late in the fourth quarter on a drive that was capped off by Samson Evans three-yard run for pay dirt, but the Eagles would strike out on both the two-point conversion and the onsides kick, allowing the Bobcats to maintain possession with under two minutes remaining. The Bobcats managed to convert a first down on the drive, eventually running out the clock— and Eastern Michigan’s hopes for a chance to play for a MAC Championship.
One of the keys to Ohio’s success was their ability to hold Eastern Michigan’s running game to under 100 yards. The Bobcats were able to get 265 yards on the ground and were led by the efforts of running back De’Montre Tuggle with 78 yards. He was joined by Armani Rogers with 61 yards. Eastern Michigan’s Ben Bryant was 41 for 57 for 354 yards with one interception. Ohio’s Kurtis Rourke didn’t have to pass much with those rushing yards but he still went 9 for 17 for 230 yards and no picks.
With this loss, the road to Detroit is long for Eastern Michigan. The best they can do in the MAC is 5-3, and to do that they would need to win both remaining games. Ball State and Northern Illinois would both have to lose two of the next three games. Since they play each other tomorrow night, one of them has to lose. Northern Illinois could theoretically end up 4-4 and Ball State could theoretically end up 3- 5. But as I said, one of them has to win, so 5-3 is probably more likely for both of them. If that happens, they win on tie breakers.
Ohio at 3-3 in the MAC, and still has an outside shot at the division title in the East, but their chances are pretty much like Eastern’s in that they need help. Ohio would first have to win outright. They would need Kent State to lose outright and they would need Miami to split their last two games. So they don’t have nearly as tall of order as Eastern.