The Eagles made themselves known early in a game which was never in doubt.
It’s been six years since Eastern Michigan (2-1) last faced off against the UMass Minutemen (0-3), but they came in on a mission, seeking to get the program’s first-ever win in the series after losing twice to UMass in their previous matchups as conference kin.
A lot can change in that amount of time, and it wasn’t more obvious than it was on Saturday afternoon, as the Eagles took home a simply dominant 42-21 victory in Amherst, Massachusetts.
EMU started off the game on a furious 21-0 rally over the first two quarters, with QB Preston Hutchinson starting off the festivities with a one-yard rushing touchdown at the 12:22 mark of the first quarter.
Darius Boone would cap off a seven-play, 69-yard drive with an eight-yard rushing strike to make it 14-0 later in the quarter on a drive aided by a UMass turnover-on-downs from a botched 10-play, 50 yard drive.
UMass’ offensive woes continued on their next drive, as DB David Carter intercepted an errant Brady Olsen throw to give the Eagles back the ball. RB Samson Evans got in on the action with EMU’s third rushing touchdown of the day from 13 yards out to end a nine-play, 51 yard drive.
UMass finally ended the shutout with a Wildcat direct snap to WR (and QB convert) Josiah Johnson with an eight-play, 80 yard drive with 3:25 remaining in the first half.
EMU attempted to add to their lead at the end of the half, trotting on Chad Ryland for his only field goal attempt of the day, which was missed from 43 yards out, thwarting a nine-play, 50-yard drive.
UMass would get two straight possessions, with one ended by the half and the other being in a punt, before handing the ball back to the Eagles. EMU would once again gain over 50 yards to try and set up a 40-yard field goal for Ryland, and once again, he missed. This sequence would speak for the tenor of the third quarter, as it took until the 2:48 mark for either team to score, as Darius Boone picked up his second TD of the day to push the score to 28-7.
The Minutemen got to work at the end of the third quarter, as EMU started playing more prevent defense, gassing the Eagles for a 45-yard touchdown from QB Brady Olsen to WR Melvin Hill to get the score to 28-14 with 1:51 remaining.
The fourth quarter saw a lot of back and forth action, even with the game mostly out of hand. James Madison transfer RB Jawon Hamilton ran in from 10 yards out on the ground, giving EMU its fifth rushing score of the day to put the score to 35-14 with 12:36 remaining.
UMass would put together what was easily their best drive of the day, taking the football 75 yards on 13 plays over 6:09, culminating in a Carter Scudo two-yard rushing score to start to mount a threat at 35-21 with 6:27 remaining.
It would all be for naught though, as EMU struck back quickly with a 54-yard toss from Cincinnati transfer QB Ben Bryant to WR Zach Westmoreland to put the game out of reach. UMass did collect one more highlight-reel touchdown, with Josaiah Johnson climbing the ladder to snag his second score of the day and put the game at its eventual final tally of 42-28.
Ben Bryant was the primary passer for EMU today, finishing 14-of-21 for 298 yards and the fourth-quarter touchdown to Westmoreland, while Preston Hutchinson also got in some series at QB, finishing 2-of-3 for 25 yards through the air and his game-opening rushing score.
Jawon Hamilton led the Eagles with 16 carries, 122 yards and one touchdown, assuming lead back responsibilities. Darius Boone picked up two touchdowns on 11 carries and 27 yards, while Samson Evans had five carries for 14 yards and a touchdown.
Hassan Beydoun led all receivers with six receptions for 101 yards, with a long of 42. Zach Westmoreland nabbed the lone receiving touchdown for EMU, and had two receptions for 97 yards. Dylan Drummond was also a contributor, with four receptions for 73 yards.
Defensively, Robert Daniel led the way with seven tackles. Noski LaFleur was second-best with six tackles. Grant Trueman (one sack) and TJ Peavy both had a tackle-for-loss apiece, while Jordan Crawford (four tackles) and Aaron Hamilton (three tackles) assisted on a TFL. Four different EMU players notched a pass breakup.
As a team, EMU gave up a concerning 519 total yards of offense, with Brady Olson (23-of-39, 288 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) and Ellis Merriweather (23 carries, 147 yards) being especially irritating.
The Eagles will now look forward to hosting Texas State on Saturday, Oct. 25 at Rynearson Stadium in a game scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern.