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Posted on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Eastern Michigan upset bid falls short in 23-7 loss to Michigan State

By Matt Durr


Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell (23) stiff arms an Easter Michigan defender during their game Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

Mike Mulholland |

Earlier in the week, Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English said his team wasn’t looking just to show up and play well against Michigan State. He wanted them to win.

Despite entering the game as a 33-point underdog, the Eagles led the No. 21 Spartans 7-6 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, their struggling offense never found a rhythm, as EMU fell to the Spartans 23-7 in East Lansing.

"We did a lot of good things. We're fighting the same thing," English said. "We give up two drives where the guy doesn't cover the tight end. I thought the guys played hard. But you know, we give up points on two drives because we don't cover the pass."

Thumbnail image for michigan-state-emu-td-celebration.jpg

Eastern Michigan wide receiver Donald Scott celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.

The lone Eagles touchdown came after Justin Cudworth recovered a fumble on the MSU 23-yard line. On the next play, sophomore quarterback Tyler Benz, who started over senior Alex Gillett, found Donald Scott for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Saline native Dylan Mulder hit the extra point giving EMU a 7-3 lead with 3:58 left in the first half.

EMU managed just 183 yards of offense on the day as the running game gained only 46 yards on 29 attempts.

Boxscore | MSU coverage

Benz completed 13-of-26 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. Earlier in the week, English said he was looking to get some more snaps for his backup quarterback, but made no mention of him starting.

"I like him out there. I don't know numbers yet; I haven't even looked at them," English said. "But I liked his poise against a hell of a defense...I mean, he was 13-of-26 for 137 and no picks. And I'll take that all day long, and a touchdown. So, I really liked his poise and I like his demeanor."

One of the few highlights for the Eagles on the day was tight end Garrett Hoskins , who had a career-high eight receptions for 102 yards for the Eagles (0-4, 0-1 MAC) in the loss.

After taking a 9-7 lead late in the third quarter, the Spartans (3-1) put the game away with a 12-play, 89-yard drive that took 5:29 off the clock. Dion Sims capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown from Andrew Maxwell.

MSU kickerDan Conroy made field goals from 35, 44 and 35 yards on the day.

On the next EMU drive, Benz found a streaking Scott behind the MSU coverage, but the junior wide receiver dropped what looked like a sure touchdown.

"That's tough. I did not see the play. I saw him open and I saw the ball, and I assumed it was a touchdown. Obviously I'm sure he's very, very disappointed," English said. "That one play didn't cost us the game. I'm sure it's a devastating play for him, he's got to recover from it."

The Eagles would not get any closer to another score all day.

Entering the game, the EMU run defense was dead last in the FBS haven given up 312.3 yards per game.

The trend continued Saturday as Le'Veon Bell rushed for 253 yards on 36 carries and a touchdown for MSU. The Spartans as a team ran for 269 yards on 44 attempts.

The 253 yards by Bell was the sixth largest rushing day for a running back in Michigan State history.

"I thought the guys did a nice job of trying to tackle Bell, you know he's a load, but we'd just like to finish better," English said. "For the most part, I thought the defensive staff had a good game plan and that the guys did a good job executing that."

The Eagles have a bye week next week before hosting Kent State on Oct.6 at Rynearson Stadium. English has spent plenty of time this season talking about being ready for the return of conference play and is looking forward to the game against KSU.

"I think that we had said all along that we addressed our issues and they were internal, and so we saw this stretch of games as preparing for league play. Now we play an outstanding Kent State team in a couple weeks here so we know that our backs are up against the wall," English said. "We already have a conference loss, so we expect these guys to really prepare and give ourselves a chance."

Matt Durr covers sports for



Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

Benz played a nice game. Offensive play calling was about as imaginative as I've seen in 3 years. Overall team effort was great. But, to blame their quarterback for all their woes is absolute nonsense. I'd like to see what Gillette could have done with the same offensive mindset their coaches had for the MSU game. I believe the coaches will go back to the old boring game calling that I've become a custom to!! "Let's run the ball and shorten the game, so we don't lose by as much."


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

ditto wilbur it's all going to blow up in they're face. who do they blame next? if the coaching staff has any smarts at all they're filling out job applications right now. lol hopefully they're not football related!


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Well said Shelly. When you have a duel threat QB the play action is the best play. Not Karcher. His favorite is First and goal at the 1 so lets hand off 3 yards in the backfield and go off right guard three straight plays than try a field goal. Gillett has handled himself with poise and class dispite the lack of talent around him. I guess fouth all time in TD passes (1 away from 3rd) and fouth all time total offense is not good enough. Maybe his next play should be a fake hand off to himself, throw the ball, run down field and catch it while at the same time trowing a block as he runs downfield. Maybe not because after the game English would blame him for not trying to punt it. This staff is a joke! Like you said all 500 people in the stands can call the play too bad the coaches can't.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

inconsistent QB? 4TD passes and two rushing tds in 1st 2 games. then comes purdue recievers run wrong routes drop passes and one in parrticular reciever gets gator arms in traffic and comes up with a boo boo every time he drops a ball or fumbles. he needs a skirt! lets blame it all on the QB. Its the inept coaching staff making excuses to try an save they're bacon. all i've heard for 4 yrs is the offense puts the defense in bad shape. LOL what defense? another thing gillett was made to be put in space run play action an rolled out. something the egotistic O cordinator refused to do. all 500 people in the stands new what was coming including my mom who can't see very well. who could succeed with that mind set? gillett gave his all kept his mouth shut worked his butt off and took a helluva beating and still put up good numbers on one poorly coached football team. then they kick him to the curb. the eagle will never land in ypsi with ron english there.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

I find it funny that the EMU fan baseis more worried about the uniforms than the football. I guess that is why they were happy with the QB switch. They are drinking the kool aid that English has been passing out. He continues to praise a defense that is worst in D1 football yet benches a player that has been the only player trying to make plays. I don't understand. This QB change is just another way to mask how incompitant the coaching staff is. He can now blame losses on a QB who is learning instead of their lack of leadership. Is their way to make things better to just replace a player who struggles? I guess the next game we will see an entire new line (one that can block), new recievers (ones who won't drop passes), and an entire defense (enough said). I want to see more effort from EMU and so far the only one giving it has been Gillett. Put him back in.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

I wonder what game English was watching that he didn't "see the play" when Scott dropped a pass. It's interesting how some players turnovers are overlooked and others warrant benching. This team will never be successful with the current coaching staff. I don't know whats worse, players with big egos or coaches with big egos. New uniforms aren't going to win games.

Pete Cunningham

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

EMU has a new uniform scheme that allows it to have numerous combinations of colors available to them.

John of Saline

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

I see. Thanks. Weird, though: on TV it looked lavender. Maybe my TV needs adjusting.

John of Saline

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

Why did EMU have gray helmets and pants?