YPSILANTI, Mich. — It felt a bit of all right at first but now it is back to reality for the fans that follow Eastern Michigan University football.
Last Saturday afternoon, the Eagles felt the warmth of being in the bright rays of the sunshine with a victory against Ball State University – now it is back down to earth and reality.
Eastern Michigan University was defeated by the University of Virginia, 48-21 in front of 37,386 happy Cavaliers fans leaving Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. under a perfect full moon that lit up the October night sky.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English deployed his offensive game plan of controlling the ball with a strong and detracting running game from his option style offense.
Eagle freshman runningback Javonti Greene who made his return back to his home state, produced a couple of memories that will have people talking about his performance for a long time. He ran just eight times for 155 yards including two touchdowns runs over fifty yards.
The second touchdown of the night for Greene, a 53-yards sprint which shrunk the Cavalier lead to just three points like the bright somoothness of the moonlight the score put a glimmer of hope into the souls of the Eagles.
Teeing up and kicking the ball off to the unsuspecting Cavaliers special team resulted in another mistake by the Eagles, this time the ensuing pooch style kickoff would not have the results desired by English.
Instead the kick off sailed across the full moon beam and floated down into return specialist Terence Fells-Danzer capable hands. He made two side-step moves and then made the Eagles playing on special teams not so specical as they miss the tackle and 70 yards later Fells-Danzer crossed the end zone stabbing and wounded the Eagles hope for comeback.
The final hopes and wishes of the Eagles came to an earth shattering end with 14:07 left in regulation. Cavalier punter Jimmy Howell took the snap and then instead of placing his right foot on the ball, he stood up tall in the pocket and looked in the direction of Trey Womack and they connected on a 56 yard touchdown pass off of a fake punt.
“Every week we try to look and see if we can exploit what they are doing using the fake, you have to prepare for the fake or practice something more than they want to because they have to be sound on all fake responsibilities something they scheme for us,” University of Virginia football coach Mike London said about using the fake punt. “This opportunity presented itself and we took it.”
London said the Eagles offense is a challenge to defend, he said there is a lot detail and his defense at times did not make the right read or adjustment.
“They did a good job what their offense is,” London said. “It is kind of a wildcat, spread you out but they have a dive option where they run trap option with a big scheme. As soon as you start running outside to stop the hand sweep on the inside with the quarterback – he becomes an extra player.”
Eagle quarterback Alex Gillett ran the ball 13 times for 86 total yards; he scored a touchdown after getting around the left side and then streaking 31 yards toward the end zone.
“They had a really good game plan,” Virginia defensive back Chase Minnifield said after the game. “It is kind of like a wildcat formation but instead it is tough to get out there and defend the edge because they cut a lot of stuff back.”
Minnifield did step in front of a Gillett pass for a team leading fourth interception late in the fourth quarter.
“I wished that I could be coaching in the ACC because they are letting a lot of clutching and grabbing go by it could be pass interference but I just do not know,” English said at the end of the first half showing some frustration… “We made some mistakes but we will get them corrected.”
The Eagles played a spirited game and at half time only trailed the Cavaliers by three points and were in the ready for a big second half, the received the kickoff and the return by Cory Welch put the ball in good position and then it happen – a miscue that just took the wind right out of the comeback.
The first play of the second half, a bad snap from Eagles’ senior center Eric Davis to quarterback Alex Gillett, the ball never lifted off of the ground but instead the ball dribbled on the turf and slipped right by Gillett waiting hands, he followed the ball and then he fell on top of the ball at the two yard line.
Gillett brought the Eagles offense up to the line of scrimmage took the snap and placed the ball into Welch’s capable hands and he ran down the sideline for a sizable gain and what appeared to the Eagles’ offense might be out of trouble but the play was nullified by a holding penalty called on wide receiver Donald Scott that placed the ball at the one yard line.
At times during the first three quarters the defensive game plan of defensive coordinator Phil Snow of getting into the backfield and getting pressure on Cavalier quarterback Marc Verica and disrupting the tailbacks was working by holding Virginia’s running game to 181 yards.
The play of the defense rush did not force any interceptions or did the defense sack Verica who finished the game 18 of 31 for 203 yards and he threw two touchdown passes.
“He has seen good times and bad times and if he understands that part of it he is going to get through the boos,” London said about his quarterback. “Part of being a mature fifth year guy understands that you are a game away or a throw away from righting your ship and playing the way you are capable of playing. He just followed the game plan.”
It felt great to win one game and the effort against Virginia showed what English says is character, the Eagles have played football for 1,000 games and have earn the respect of the NCAA now it is the time to expand the character and win another game.
The Eastern Michigan University road trip comes to a brief end next week, as the Eagles will be home for a Mid-American Conference game at Rynearson Stadium against the University of Toledo, the game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
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.