The Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Buffalo Bulls met on Saturday in Ypsilanti in a battle of .500 teams. Each team was looking to get the final third of their season off to a strong start in hopes of reaching a bowl game, but an early injury in this game to EMU’s star QB Mike Glass dented those hopes for the Eagles. The Bulls, playing their own backup QB, capitalized and led this one most of the way, winning by a final score of 43-14.
EMU won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, however they weren’t able to manufacture anything on their first drive, going three and out, and punting the ball to the UB 24.
The Bulls were slightly more effective than the Eagles on their first possession, moving the chains three times thanks to a balanced rushing attack by RBs Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, and a trio of grabs by WR Antonio Nunn. On the fourth set of downs, a holding call on the Bulls set the UB offense behind schedule, which they couldn’t overcome. P Jackson Baltar punted from the EMU 39 and netted 33 yards, pinning the Eagles at their own six.
After taking over at their own six yard line, the Eagles struck quickly. After picking up one first down, EMU faced a 3rd and 6 from their own 20 yardline, QB Mike Glass heaved a bomb to WR Matthew Sexton for an 80 yard TD connection that gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
Following a touchback on the kickoff, the Bulls took over at their own 25 and led a long drive all the way down to the EMU 1. The drive started with a 42 yard completion from QB Kyle Vantrease to Antonio Nunn that moved the Bulls to the EMU 33. After advancing all the way to the EMU 2, the Bulls were faced with a 4th and goal decision, looking to answer EMU’s TD, coach Lance Leipold elected to go for it. Vantrease kept it on an option but ended up a yard short, handing the ball back to EMU at their own one.
After regaining possession, EMU ran two plays for no gain before a sack in the end zone on third down gave UB a safety to bring the score to 7-2.
On the free kick following the safety, Jaret Patterson had a 16 yard return that gave the Bulls possession at the UB 39. A series of short gains by Kevin Marks, and short completions by Kyle Vantrease gave the Bulls 1st and goal at the nine yard line. A handoff to Kevin Marks looked like it would be a ~4 yard gain, but the UB offensive line got behind Marks and moved the pile all the way into the end zone, giving the Bulls a 9-7 lead following the PAT by K Alex McNulty.
A fair catch on the kickoff gave the Eagles the ball at their own 25. The Eagles ran three plays to gain a total of four yards. After being hit on his drop back on the third play of the drive, Mike Glass came up injured and would not re-enter the game. On the punt attempt P Jake Julien fumbled the snap, and had to attempt to scramble with the ball, he advanced the ball from his spot, but the play ended up being a 4 yard loss, giving the Bulls at the EMU 25.
After taking over on downs, the Bulls ran three plays to gain nine yards, facing a 4th and 1 Leipold choose to go for it, over turning to the struggling kicking game. The Bulls ran a naked bootleg, as Vantrease kept the ball and the defense was fooled by the fake HB dive, Vantrease easily made it into the end zone around the right side. Vantrease’s score gave the Bulls a 16-7 lead.
Following another fair catch on the kickoff, the Eagles took over at their own 25. With backup QB Preston Hutchinson now behind center, the EMU offense struggled, and again went three and out. Jake Julien successfully got off a 47 yard punt, that was returned 15 yards to the UB 39 by Ron Cook.
Following the punt, the UB offense continued rolling, needing just 1:55 to march the 61 yards to the end zone. The drive was keyed by the arm of Vantrease and the legs of Marks, and it was capped off by Vantrease on a 1 yard keeper on a read option. Alex McNulty missed the ensuing PAT, so the score sat at 22-7 UB.
EMU would once again go three and out, and punt the ball to UB at the UB 43. Big gains by Jaret Patterson and WR Daniel Lee would move the Bulls down to the EMU 2, before Vantrease was sacked for an eight yard loss. On second and goal from the UB 10, Vantrease connected with his favorite target, Antonio Nunn, in the corner of the endzone for a TD. McNulty knocked this PAT through, and the Bulls led 29-7.
EMU regained possession with just 4 seconds left on the clock, and ran one play before heading to the locker room down 22 points at home.
Buffalo got the first possession of the second half, but they only managed one first down on the drive before being forced to punt. Following the punt, EMU and Buffalo each took turns with possessions going three and out. The result was the EMU offense taking possession at their own 41 with 9:05 remaining in the third quarter.
EMU’s drive started well with a 38 yard completion from Preston Hutchinson to WR Quian Williams, that moved the ball down to the UB 21. On the new set of downs, the Eagles netted 2 yards on their first three plays, giving them 4th and 8 from the UB 19. Down three scores the Eagles attempted to convert the 4th down, but an incompletion turned the ball over on downs.
The Bulls capitalized on the EMU gamble using 11 plays and 5:47 of game clock to take the ball 81 yards on a TD scoring drive. The drive was capped off by a 1 yard TD run by Jaret Patterson that gave the Bulls a 36-7 lead.
On the third play of EMU’s new drive, a pass by Preston Hutchinson was picked off by CB Aapri Washington and was returned 10 yards to the EMU 39 yard line.
The UB offense turned to the run game to capitalize on this mistake, running the ball 12 times on a 13 play drive that resulted in a UB touchdown. Patterson again punched it in from one yard out. Alex McNulty knocked the PAT through the uprights, making the score 43-7.
On EMU’s final drive of the afternoon, they found the most sustained offensive success that they had all afternoon, against largely the Buffalo defensive second unit. A 10 play, 75 yard drive was finalized by a QB sneak by Preston Hutchinson falling into the end zone from one yard out. The TD score and ensuing PAT left the score at 43-14, which would be final.
The Bulls took over with 1:29 remaining in the game and kneeled the ball three times to get out of Ypsilanti with a 43-14 win.