Eastern Michigan's offensive problems persist in 45-14 loss to Ohio
Trailing by ten points early in the second half against Ohio University on Thursday night, the Eastern Michigan football team put together a 14-play drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock. And on their next possession, the Eagles strung together an 11-play drive.
Neither drive yielded any points.
It was that kind of night for the Eagles offense as Eastern dropped the road contest to the Bobcats 45-14 at Peden Stadium. The loss drops Eastern to 1-8 this season and 0-5 in MAC play.
“A big momentum swing was when we drove the ball and threw an interception. I think the team got deflated then,” said head coach Ron English. “When you’re suffering through a tough season like we are, I think that happens. When you don’t capitalize, which is often the case when you’re struggling, then guys let down a little bit.”
As has been the case all season for the Eagles, sloppy play at crucial times left the Eagles playing catch-up throughout the contest.
The 14-play drive stalled after a sack that pushed the Eagles out of field goal range followed a holding penalty.
On the Bobcats ensuing possession Tyler Tettleton, found Donte Foster on seemingly harmless pass for short yardage. But Foster made three EMU defenders miss tackles and turned the ball up field for a 79-yard touchdown, giving Ohio a 31-14 lead.
EMU responded with the 11-play drive, but came away empty handed when Keith Moore intercepted Tyler Benz on the Ohio 7-yard line. Benz struggled for the second consecutive week throwing for 138 yards on 9-of-21 passing and a touchdown.
“We were indecisive in the passing game a little bit. I thought the quarterback looked at the rush a little bit as the game went along. And he is a young quarterback and he just to learn to go through his progressions and right now he’s struggling doing that," English said.
Surprisingly, former starting quarterback Alex Gillett was Benz’s favorite target on the night as Gillett caught three passes for 42 yards in limited action at the receiver position.
The Eagles moved the ball well in the first quarter, gaining 115 yards in first stanza. Dylan Mulder missed a 39-yard field goal attempt on the first drive, but the Eagles responded two possessions later when Benz hit Ryan Brumfield for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Brumfield added a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that made the game 17-14 Ohio.
EMU wouldn’t get any closer despite having the chance to take the lead before halftime.
After EMU defensive end Devin Henderson intercepted a tipped pass with 1:26 left in the half, EMU went three-and-out before punting the ball away.
Ohio capitalized, engineering a seven-play, 65-yard drive in just 55 seconds capped off by a Tettleton touchdown pass to Foster, who would finish with seven catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
Once again the EMU defense was unable to stop the run, surrendering 304 yards and three scores on the ground. Ryan Boykin ran for 128 yards on 17 carries, while Beau Blankenship carried the ball 11 times for 72 yards. Both scored for the Bobcats.
Bronson Hill had 111 yards rushing on 25 carries for Eastern Michigan on the night. Foster finished with seven catches for 164 yards. Tettleton completed 19-of-27 passes for 255 yards with an interception.
Ohio is now 8-1 this year and 4-1 in MAC play.
The Eagles return home next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
--The Associated Press contributed to this report.