YPSILANTI, Mich. – Host Eastern Michigan earned its first Mid-American Conference victory Thursday night with a 56-14 decision over the Ball State football team at Rynearson Stadium.
Eastern Michigan (3-6, 1-4 MAC) easily could have been 3-1 or 4-0 in league play entering tonight’s contest. The Eagles lost three of their four MAC games in overtime. EMU’s other conference loss was by five points to MAC West Toledo.
Brogan Roback, Eastern Michigan’s quarterback, threw three touchdown passes while running back Ian Eriksen piled up 114 rushing yards and one score.
“Obviously a disappointing night here,” head coach Mike Neu said. “We’ve got to keep plugging away and moving forward. Every day is a new day. Every opponent is a new opponent.”
After Ball State (2-7, 0-5) quarterback Drew Plitt found freshman wide receiver Khalil Newton for a 25-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-all in the middle of the first quarter, Eastern Michigan responded with four long touchdown drives to take a commanding 35-14 lead at intermission.
The host Eagles scored on both of their possessions in the third quarter to put the game away and earn their first victory over Ball State at Rynearson Stadium since 2003. Eastern Michigan was able to keep many of its drives alive by converting third downs. The Eagles converted nine of their first 10 third down attempts. The lone stop came at the end of the first half when Eastern Michigan was running out the clock.
Ball State’s Plitt, who was making his first collegiate start, had several bright moments. He tossed Ball State’s first two passing touchdowns since Sept. 16 against Tennessee Tech. Plitt was also able to connect on some throws down the field including a 31-yarder to Newton and a 30-yard hook up with freshman Justin Hall.
On the ground, freshmen running backs Caleb Huntley and Markice Hurt Jr. each averaged better than five yards per carry.
Senior defensive lineman Anthony Winbush added a sack and forced fumble. He leads the nation with five forced fumbles and is one sack away from tying the program record of 25 held by defensive line coach Keith McKenzie.
Ball State will play its final road game of the season next week, traveling to Northern Illinois on Thursday night, Nov. 9. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m. ET.