Eagles ground game flies high in 30-21 win at Arizona State

Evans, who entered the game with a career-best 89 rushing yards he racked up earlier this season against Eastern Kentucky University, finished with the third-most rushing yards in a single game at EMU, passing the mark of Bronson Hillwho rushed for 257 against Ohio University, Oct. 19, 2013. Larry Ratcliff holds the all-time record with 291 yards against Eastern Kentucky University on October 16, 1971.

How did it happen
Eastern quickly took a 3-0 lead with Jesus Gomez (Puebla, Mexico-Prepa Tec Puebla) connecting on his first career field goal attempt – a 27-yard kick – forward Jaylon Jackson (Burleson, Texas-Centennial) ran from four yards to build the lead to 10-0. From there, the Eagles maintained their advantage as they were able to score on five of their first six possessions to earn the win.

Second-year quarterback Austin Smith (Ellenwood, Ga.-Cedar Grove) came off the bench in the first quarter and made an immediate impact as he ran 20 yards to keep the player alive. Unofficially, Smith finished the night with 60 passing yards – the first passing yards of his career – with a touchdown while adding 62 rushing yards.

Overall, the victory marked the fourth time in the Chris Creighton time when Eastern defeated a Power Five opponent. The only Mid-American Conference coach with multiple wins over a Power Five team, Creighton’s Eagles added the Sun Devils to the roster that includes Rutgers University (2017), Purdue University (2018) and the University of Illinois (2019).

The Eagles return home next week, Sept. 24, when they host the University at Buffalo in a noon kick at Rynearson Stadium. The MAC opener will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

Game Notes
The Eastern Michigan offense was composed early in their last two respective contests. The Green and White completed a 12-game, 56-yard drive in 3:56 to start their game against the Sun Devils. The practice ended with a field goal and ensured consecutive match-opening scoring drives for EMU. The last time Eastern held back-to-back contests with opening scores was in November 2021, when it did so in games against Ohio University on Nov. 9 and the Western Michigan University, November 16.
Gomez split the amounts on a 27-yard field goal attempt with 11:04 in the first quarter. It’s the first field goal of his career. Also, it was the first three-point attempt for Eastern Michigan this season. Heading into tonight’s game, EMU hadn’t scored a field goal since December 18, 2021 against Liberty University.
Michigan’s Eastern defense was solid to start the game, forcing Arizona State to a three-and-out in its first possession of the contest. The Eagles have now forced the opponent to three-and-three in back-to-back contests, the first time for the program since the 2021 campaign, when it did against Central Michigan University on Nov. 26 and Liberty University,
A. Smith came off the bench in the second quarter and made an immediate impact. In just his second career, the Peach State native helped Eastern complete a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown in which he completed a career-high 2-of-2 pass attempts, as well as a 52 yards on four attempts, including a 20-yard long one. All of these stats were also career highs.
Eastern Michigan scored 24 points in the first half against Arizona State. This total is the highest for the team since November 2, 2021, when UEM fell 24 in the first half of their game at the University of Toledo. This game ended victoriously for the Eagles, who defeated the Rockets, 52-49.
The Eagles finished the first half with 307 yards, the most for the team in any game this season. Additionally, EMU’s 154 rushing yards in the first half was more than any full game total for the team this season. Eastern’s previous record 124 yards came against Eastern Kentucky University on September 2.
Evans had a stellar first half against the Sun Devils. The third-year Eagle hit a career-high 15 times in the first 30 minutes of action, racking up a personal-best 96 rushing yards. Unofficially, Evans finished the contest with a career-high 257 yards on 35 carries. He is the first EMU player to rush 100 yards or more in a contest since November 16, 2021, when the former Eagle Jawon Hamilton went for 187 rushing yards in a game against Western Michigan University. He’s also the first Eagle to rush for 200+ yards since Reginald Bell rushed for 202 against Buffalo on Oct. 11, 2014.
The UEM defense was solid in the first half against ASU. Entering the contest, Eastern had allowed 237.8 yards per half in 2022. Tonight, the Eagles limited the Sun Devils to just 127 total yards in the first 30 minutes, a 47% decrease in yardage. total against the team’s season average.
In addition to its first-quarter success on defense, Eastern Michigan was also impressive coming out of the locker room in 2022. The Eagles stopped the Sun Devils from scoring their first drive of the second half tonight. No EMU opponents have scored in their first second-half training of 2022.
With their 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Eagles have now kept their opponents clear of the scoreboard in the first stanza of three games this season, tying the total recorded in the 2021 season. Last year, the three East teams that shut out in the first quarter were Saint Francis University (14-0), University of Massachusetts (14-0) and Western Michigan University (0-0).
Eastern Michigan has held opponents off the scoreboard in the first quarter in three straight games. It’s the first time in the Chris Creighton era (2014-Pres.) that the team reached that stat. Additionally, EMU hasn’t knocked opponents off the board in three consecutive quarters since 2005-06, when the Eagles did so in Weeks 11 and 12 of 2005 and then again in the first week of 2006.
At halftime, the Eagles had accumulated 154 yards on the ground. Before the game, Eastern had 124 rushing yards against EKU and 41 at Louisiana. Additionally, Eastern entered the game with 165 total rushing yards on the season and averaging 2.9 per carry.
Eastern’s second touchdown of the game, a 6-yard pass from A. Smith to Hassan Beydoun (Dearborn, Mich.-Dearborn)covered 75 yards in 13 plays and was down 6:43 from the game clock. Distance covered and number of plays are season highs while time of possession is the longest score of the 2022 campaign, improving the 6:41 it took the Eagles to score against the University of Louisiana on September 10.

Historical Notes
» Chris Creighton now holds four kills over “Power 5” opponents. He is the only active MAC coach with multiple wins on the “Power 5” programs. Previously, Eastern’s wins came in 2017 over Rutgers University, 2018 over Purdue University, and 2019 over the University of Illinois.
EMU has now won a non-conference contest every year since the 2011 season. That streak is the longest in program history since 1966-75.
Additionally, Eastern has had a non-conference road win in every season since 2015.
With the win, Eastern won the first head-to-head between the two programs. The Eagles lead the series 1-0 and are now 1-1 all-time against the Pac-12 Conference.
With the win, Eastern Michigan becomes the first Mid-American Conference program to earn a regular-season win over a PAC-12 Conference member.
Eastern Michigan handed Arizona State its first non-conference home loss since the 2017 season.

About Georgia Duvall

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