You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

Eastern Michigan falls to FCS (formerly Division I-AA) opponent Illinois State 31-14 in home opener

By Matt Durr


Eastern Michigan's Bronson Hill bobbles the ball before catching it during a football game at Eastern Michigan University on Saturday afternoon. Illinois State defeated Eastern Michigan 31-14.

Joseph Tobianski |

Turnovers, penalties and dropped passes were all factors for the Eastern Michigan football team on Saturday, as the Eagles fell to Illinois State 31-14 at Rynearson Stadium.

“What we have right now is a team that I think thought they were better than they were. We played two really good football teams,” said head coach Ron English. “This team reminds me of the ’07 Michigan team. We’re fighting each other and fighting the coaches. Right now we’re not a good football team.”

The Eagles had five turnovers on the day to go along with nine penalties for 69 yards and a blocked field goal.

Boxscore | Photo Gallery

For the second consecutive week, the Eagles saw the game slip away in the third quarter as the offense struggled to move the ball

“So far this year we haven’t proven we can run the ball,” English said. “People are loading up the box and forcing us to throw it.”

The Eagles gained just 103 yards on 32 rushing attempts Saturday. After averaging 218.3 yards per game last season, good for 14th in the nation, the Eagles have yet to find their groove on the ground this season.

“We don’t block anybody, we don’t knock anybody off the ball,” English said. “We’re just not physical enough right now. We’re really getting pushed around if you look at the first two games.”

The Eagles managed only one first down in the third quarter and just 11 on the day. The Eagles went three-and-out on their first four drives of the second half.

ISU opened the scoring on a 58-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Miller in the first quarter. After stopping the Redbirds on third down, the Eagles were called for a personal foul on the ensuing punt, giving ISU a first down.

Three plays later, Miller broke free for the score.

“On fourth down, when you get a penalty when they’re punting the ball, that’s a turnover,” English said. “

Three first half turnovers nearly spelled disaster for the Eagles (0-2, 1-0 MAC) who twice coughed up the ball in their own territory. The EMU defense however was able to limit ISU to just three points off turnovers in the half.

“I thought they did a nice job in that they really fought. They were put in some very bad situations in both halves,” English said. “I was proud of some of the things the defense did today.”

After falling behind 10-0 early in the second quarter, EMU scored on two of its next three drives and took a 14-10 lead into the break.

Hoskins copy.jpg

Eastern Michigan's Garrett Hoskins goes deep for a pass that resulted in Eastern's first touchdown during a football game at Eastern Michigan University on Saturday afternoon. Illinois State defeated Eastern Michigan 31 to 14. Joseph Tobianski |

Much like last week when the Eagles entered the second half tied with Ball State, a slow start to the half led to their downfall.

“We got to finish games and we’re hurting ourselves,” English said.

The Redbirds (2-0) scored on their first two drives of the half to push the lead to 24-14. As the EMU offense struggled, ISU was able to control the clock, holding on to the ball for nearly 22 minutes in the second half.

EMU senior quarterback Alex Gillett was 11-of-25 passing for 145 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 49 yards and a touchdown. Gillett spent most of the day scrambling and trying to avoid the Redbirds pass rush.

“I think he got unnerved early,” English said. “Their one rush end was up the field all the time. When he stepped up, he didn’t see guys open and I think he got unnerved and he started to try to do too much.

“We just have to get him back. He made a lot of progress in terms of being able to step up in the pocket and throw the ball.”

For the Redbirds, Darrelynn Dunn had 130 yards rushing on 32 carries. He also scored two touchdowns.

With road games coming up against Purdue and Michigan State, English and his team hoping to right the wrongs before they resume MAC conference play.

English did say he saw improvement in his team, especially on defense, but he also said that there is plenty of work to be done.

“What I have to do is keep the team together and continue to work and get us out of this thing. I’ve been here before; what’s happening to us is nothing new. It’s happened to many teams,” English said. “What you have to do is stay the course and keep fighting and keep getting them better and build their confidence and come out of it.”

The Eagles travel Purdue next Saturday for a noon kickoff.

Matt Durr covers sports for Follow him on twiiter @mdurr84. Contact via email at



Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

If there was ever a case for a school dropping its' football program, it is EMU. How much money is lost by the school supporting that joke? They could hire Nick Saben and the result would be the same. EMU has been left in the dust buy the other MAC schools in the state in both academics and athletics. It is time to move on.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

0-1 in the MAC, not 1-0, Matt

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 4:35 a.m.

The '07 Michigan team won nine of its last 11 games after a terrible start. What is it, exactly, that reminds English of this team? Does he really think he's going to sweep the MAC West with this team? The only similarity between '07 Michigan and '12 EMU is that English should be in his last season on the staff of both teams.


Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

emu will NEVER get it right. I quit caring about this joke of school decades ago.

greg, too

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I would be interested to see if half of the students even know where the football stadium is. Not knocking them, it's a commuter school, so most of them are at home on the weekends instead of rooting on this mess of a team. They need to keep scheduling interesting teams like Howard just to get people to come out. And that sad fact, that students will only go to see the other team, is why English needs to go and they need to move down a division.

Mark H

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Our football team might be fairly termed a "joke," Boo, but the university is nothing of the sort. Few at EMU care about the Eagles, aside from wishing them well and wishing they did not consume so much of our students' payments to the university.

EMU Prof

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Everybody's being way too hard on Ron's not like he makes 350K a year! Oh, wait....

Speedy Squirrel

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

First there was the dropped kick return (right through his ARMS)! Then the ridiculous offside penalties, holding penalties, and even a facemask thown in for good measure. I thought coach English was supposed to be a recruiting machine, but each year our offensive line gets lighter and lighter! The was almost no pass protection out there today, and no wonder; the other team had at least 20 pounds on us at each position.

Jim Pryce

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Why doesn't EMU just join the GLIAC? They would possibly have a more competitive game.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

An embarrassment - nothing less! From the coaches to the players to the ball boys - the game was a disaster! Team (and coaches) and regressing! This is HIS team with HIS players and he they cant line up right w.o a penalty (out of a timeout, no less!) There was a decent crown and many freshmen who were excited and you could see the sadness on their faces as the game progressed! Season is done! And we can now officially squash the myth that Coach E has rebuilt the program!

greg, too

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

Spot on. Before he could claim that he did not have his own players, but he no longer has that excuse. This is a sign of two things. a.) he needs to go at the end of the year (firing him now will accomplish nothing). and after he is fired, b.) EMU needs to give in and go to FCS. They cannot handle the big boys, or even the littler ones, so let's stop kidding ourselves.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

sorry about the typos but I was so mad when typing I nearly broke my keyboard


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

I am SO mad right now! GRRR!

Marcus Adams

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

Hey coach, the next time you buy a D2 school make sure they follow the script and stay bought like the Eagles will for the next two weeks.

greg, too

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

"What we have right now is a team that I think thought they were better than they were. We played two really good football teams. We're fighting each other and fighting the coaches." Both are grounds for termination. Fire him now. Two good teams? Really? What happens when they actually play a bowl bound team? They can't even beat the patsies on the schedule.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Disappointed say the least I saw no improvement from last week to this one none ehat so ever.