YPSILANTI, Mich. — It is over!
The curtain came down Friday afternoon November 25, 2011 under the prairie sky on the green turf of Bingham Field inside Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.
Eastern Michigan University fell 18-12 against Northern Illinois University leaving a bitter taste for the Eagles to endure for the off season, the Huskies will be returning to the city of Detroit to face Ohio University for the championship trophy of the Mid-American Conference Friday night Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
The Eagles made some noticeable improvement this season.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English completed his third season with the Eagles with a 6-6 record, this include a record of 5-1 at Rynearson Stadium.
Eastern Michigan University last winning record came in the year of 1995 when the Eagles finished the season 6-5 since then the football seasons were unbearable to watch, too many bad teams, too many poor players and coaches who were second guessing about their career choice about making the stop in Ypsilanti.
Many coaches have come and gone, one or two have move on to programs as an assistant at other schools but most former coaches of Eastern Michigan University football have left the profession.
This season began like all of the rest of the football seasons in Ypsilanti – an autumn of hope.
At the beginning of the 2011 season, English said his team would be a work in progress but he also said his team’s improvement can be seen everyday at practice.
Eastern Michigan University defensive coordinator Phil Snow said the defense would be better because of the player’s dedication to get better and the Eagles were faster and they would be a physical football team.
The defense needed to make one play against the Kent State University and prior to that game, the defense needed to make just one stop against the offense of Ball State University and after the game with the Cardinals, English was upset that his defense could not make one more stop.
English and Snow agreed that the Eagles defense wanted limit the big play this season.
The one defensive stop that English wanted just did not happen and the results were big yardage play that resulted in the opposition finding the end zone for a touchdown.
At Dix Stadium against Kent State University, Eastern Michigan University defensive back field could not break up a 70-yard pass completion by Golden Flash quarterback Spencer Keith to an open Tyshon Goode resulted in a touchdown.
Against Ball State University the offense for the Eagles made a gallant effort and took the lead against the Cardinals and it looked like the Eagles were going to pull the game away from the jaws of defeat.
Ball State University quarterback Keith Wenning made some heroic decisions and moved his team down the field without too much problem and he got the Cardinals in position for a game winning 44 yard field goal.
A blustery Friday morning against Northern Illinois University, the Eagles defense gave up a 68-yard run for a score and a scoring pass of 54-yards that opened up the scoring for the game.
Northern Illinois University quarterback Chandler Harnish ran for 148 yards including his 68-yard run in the third quarter. He approached the line of scrimmage third-and-1, the Eagle defense could not make the one play that might have turned the momentum of the game.
Harnish opened the scoring when he completed a pass to wide receiver Willie Clark and he finished the play by running 54 yards for the score.
Another hope from English that the defense would make the play for his team vanishes like the dust being swept away from the prairie wind.
“I thought that it was a good, hard-nosed football game that was played today,” English said about the game. “It does not come down to one play; it is really a culmination of plays. We had a chance on Chandler, we missed a tackle and he scored. That is what happen.”
The Huskies offense gained 286 yards of total offense against the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan University quarterback Alex Gillett and the offense again mage another gallant try and got themselves into position for a victory but after getting sacked twice late in the game and forcing a fourth-and-35 pass play.
The pass play did develop and Gillett’s pass found tight end Garrett Hoskins and the ball fell into Hoskins hands but only to slip through his hands and the ball fell to the ground with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter.
“That is tough catch. The ball exposed. His back is exposed and it is a bang-bang play,” English said about Eastern Michigan’s final offensive play of the season. “It is a hard catch because where they hit him and how the ball is exposed. A lot of people are never going to make the catch. Garrett Hoskins has some of the best hands on our team.”
The end of the season saw improvement by the Eagles but there were also some bitter heart ache this season like the missing bowl eligible by one game.
“I have been through this before and I don’t like that, for example, today, we had two penalties we had been penalized a bunch,” English said. “I continue to look at this thing as progress. It is flustering, yes, but we have some great seniors in there who did not quit on us.”
“Our senior class is 16 strong-willed and terrific young men and I am proud of them,” English said about his senior’s last game. “I’m looking forward to continue to move forward.”
English says that the growth of the program is all ways a work in progress and some of the growth also is dealing with bitterness of being so close.
Winning is contagious and the Eagles have experience this season a wealth of knowledge and the six victories this season is like left over Thanksgiving diner-all way room for more.
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.