YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Oh yes the air did have the smell of smoke but it was not a romantic fire but because of a small electrical fire in one of the concession stands located in the concourse at the home of Eastern Michigan University at the very cozy Rynearson Stadium could not dampen the color and pageantry of college football and the celebration of Band Day.
After the fire, the smoke drifted and was pushed away from the area of the seats by the slight breeze blowing through Ypsilanti; the Eagles hosted from the Mid-American Conference arch-rival the West Division leading the University of Toledo.
The Rockets fired up and smoked the Eastern Michigan University Saturday afternoon 42-7, keeping the flame of hope for a trip to Detroit and the Mid-American Conference Championship Game in December alive and sending the 25,860 Eagle fans that kept their seat warmed at Rynearson Stadium home smoldering.
The damage from the fire was minimal but the Eagles defense produced the heat on the University of Toledo offense in the first quarter buy getting to the Rockets starting quarterback Austin Dantin who had to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury, stepping up into the pocket and putting out the fire for the Rockets freshman quarterback Terrance Owens.
Owens had no problem keeping the heat on the Eagle defense; Owens finished the game 10 of 15 for 234 yards and four touchdowns a career day.
The first play from scrimmage for Owens he connected with a pass to tight end Danny Noble over the middle and ran 72 yards and giving the Rockets the lead.
“I could not be more proud of him,” University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman said about his freshman quarterback Owens. “He responded well!”
“They are a well coached team and they make great adjustments,” Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English said about the Rockets. “I thought that we did not do nearly enough offensively to help the defense, we did not do enough to give the defense a chance.”
The Eagle defense at times played some spirited football but the offense had trouble finding any rhythm or room to run.
“We were good in the first half, we busted the coverage on the pop pass but then we do not run the guy down. That was disappointing,” English said about the play of the Eagle defense. “To sum it up that is one of the top two or three teams that we have played. That it is a really good football team!”
Late in the first half during a punt situation for Eastern Michigan University the Rynearson Stadium goblin snuck into the game on behalf of the Eagles.
Toledo’s punt return specialist Eric Page running to field a bouncing ball from the turf when the ball nicked his finger tip but the gremlin some how blocked Page away from the ball and Eagle Marcell Rose recovered the muffed punt at the Toledo’s four-yard line.
Second play of the scoring drive, Eagle tailback Corey Welch took the ball into the end zone from two yards out for the only score of the game for Eastern Michigan but because of the Rocket’s successful two point conversion the Eagles were still one point behind Toledo.
The Eastern Michigan defense could not keep the Rockets from scoring on the ensuing possession again Owens found Noble in the end zone alone and waiting for the six yard strike for the score.
“We knew that going into the game they would get the ball to their skilled players,” English said. “We knew that hey had the ability to hurt us.”
The game plan of controlling the ball by getting the rushing game deployed did not materialize for the Eagles, they could only net 100 yards running the ball and Eagle quarterback Alex Gillett went 15 of 26 for 170 yards and he threw two interceptions.
“I think he just did not play as well as he has in the past I do not know,” English said about the performance of Gillett. “Maybe it is the grind, we went on a three game road trip we played a lot of teams bigger than us I do not know if that a factor into it but I thought the offense was not sharp at all.”
“It says we have 100 yards I would have lost my paycheck on that, I did not think that we had that many,” English said about the play of his rushing offense. “We did not block anybody.”
The Eagles will have time this week to rest and heal the aching nagging injuries as they have the bye week and English said his team is ready for the rest.
The next game for the Eagles will be another road trip visiting Kalamazoo and Western Michigan University the game is scheduled to kickoff at 2 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.