YPSILANTI, Mich. — Well bless my soul!
All my nieces and nephews need to shout from the campus of Eastern Michigan University and walk proud this week around town because the losing streak that plagued this school is finally over, a part of ancient history.
It was not easy!
With the loom of lost number 19 staring down at the Eagles like a double-barrel shot gun but like that rascal rabbit the Eagles dodged the buckshot and left Ball State University with 41-38 overtime win against the Cardinals.
Ball State University football coach Stan Parrish could not believe the results he thought on a couple of occasions that his team would win the game; he believed that his team would force the streak to continue.
“We let that thing get away from us long before the overtime,” Parrish said. “We deserved what we got.”
The Cardinals players could not believe that they lost; they stared at each other in a state of confusion and shock.
“We have to learn to react to adversity,” Ball State free safety Sean Baker said after the game. “Not everything is going to go our way. You always have to know there is another play coming.”
The Eagles fought back from not one but two 21 point deficits and tied the score forcing the game to add an overtime period and once again the Eagles fought their way back but this time it was for a game winning touchdown.
With one play left in the game, the Eagles quarterback Alex Gillett stepped up to the line of scrimmage and he executed the play that came into the huddle from the sideline.
Gillett dropped back into the pocket and lifted a pass up into the Indiana air and tight end Ben Thayer streaked toward the end zone and when the ball fell into his arms the prayers and wishes of Eagle fans were answered-a win.
The rest of the Eagles boiled over onto the field and ran toward Thayer and Gillett and joined the celebration in the corner of the end zone.
The joyful noise of winning continued as the Eagles ran off of the field with their voices rising toward the blue Indiana sky as they disappeared under the stands and into the locker room.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English entered the locker room and watched the with pride the jubilation and then he felt the cold sting of the Gatorade raining over him, his grin could not be wiped away with a towel.
“I expect to win some games,” English said. “Winning games is important from this standpoint – the morale of the players.”
English became the Eagles football coach back in 2008 and he has shown a great deal of patience – for he has endured players that have had no faith in his system, he has endured assistance coaches that could not teach his style of football and he answered many questions about trusting his philosophy.
Now the real work begins for English and the Eagles they will be trying to prove that the win at Ball State University is not a fluke.
When this football season began in July at the Media Day in Detroit at Ford Field, English sat at a round table and explained that he wanted to make sure that people understood that there is more to this program than win and losses.
English wanted the Eagle fans to embrace the changes, he described the new attitude in the athletic department and he wanted the community to join the change and show support for the program.
During the celebration of the victory, Eastern Michigan University athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg showed support for the program by joining English and the team and singing loud the chorus of the fight song.
Now the rest of the season continues for the Eagles and this week another road trip. Saturday night in the historic city of Charlottesville, Virginia and the picture perfect campus of the University of Virginia and there is a chance for history to repeat itself and the Eagles could leave the home of presidents and diplomats with another road victory.
The Cavaliers are struggling this football season after six games Virginia has only two wins one was against the University of Richmond and the other win came against the Virginia Military Institute.
Nobody can question the commitment of improving the Eagles program by English; he has shown remarkable mettle and patience for this program.
As English sat on a stool in the corner of the locker room, the impression of English’s smile will always be as bright as that Indiana sun Saturday afternoon flooding the surrounding farm fields.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.