EMU hands CMU loss in the final game of the season
A second-and-14 dropback for young play-caller Jase Bauer on his team’s own 20-yard line posed an opportunity for him to put his team back in the game. The result was an interception - one of three thrown by the redshirt freshman, and an Eastern Michigan score.
From there, the Chippewas folded in their final Mid-American Conference game of the season.
The Eagles (8-4, 5-3) beat Central Michigan football (4-8, 3-5) by a score of 38-19 on Friday, securing the “Michigan MAC Title." EMU also earned a share of the MAC West Title, along with Toledo.
EMU kicked off the scoring when quarterback Taylor Powell connected with wide receiver Tanner Knue as part of a 10-play drive, which lasted nearly five minutes.
Not to be outdone, the Chippewas answered with a score of their own. Sophomore WR/KR Sam Hicks took EMU’s kickoff 50 yards from CMU’s own 13 down to EMU’s 33. Following a handful of rushes and a first-down hookup between Bauer and senior WR Carlos Carriere, the Chippewas managed to punch in on a 1-yard rush from freshman QB Bert Emanuel Jr. to even the score at 7.
Bauer finished his day with seven completions on 15 attempts and no touchdowns. As head coach Jim McElwain has done over the last four games, he deployed a rotation of his quarterbacks against the Eagles, with mixed results.
“We were gonna play everybody,” McElwain said when asked about his decision to stick with Bauer. “That’s just the way the first eight worked.”
Emanuel, who has starred in his run-first role since being inserted into the quarterback rotation, scored three rushing touchdowns while adding 75 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Emanuel got up slowly and limped to the sideline with the help of trainers after a big hit. The extent of the injury is unknown.
“I’m good,” Emanuel said. “I’m not dying so I’m gonna be fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Daniel Richardson, who started the season off as the starting quarterback, only saw two snaps against EMU.
EMU nearly doubled CMU’s offensive output, gaining 437 yards to the Chippewas’ 229. The Eagles’ attack was led by Powell who had four total touchdowns and running back Samson Evans who finished with one touchdown and 135 rushing yards.
The Chippewas’ defensive line, which has been one of their most consistent units, was not able to force the kind of pressure it has in other games this season.
For senior defensive lineman Robi Stuart it was his final game with CMU, after joining the program in 2017.
“I’ve played on a few different teams for CMU now,” Stuart said. “I’ve been on some really good ones and some not-so-great ones. You learn and take things from both. Pushing through adversity… puts a fire in your belly to come back better and learn better. Overall, I hope (the younger players on the roster) remember the feeling of the low points. When you’re at the top, you gotta remember the lows, or you’ll take it for granted.”
In the loss, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Quindario Lee had one of his best performances as a Chippewa, ending with four total tackles, two for loss and a sack.
Even though the season didn't go as he hoped, Stuart said he was proud of this squad.
“We’ve played some really, really good games, and have some things to be very proud about,” Stuart said. “Other times it’s been really difficult for us and we’ve faced a lot of adversity. You’re going to face that in life though. And it’s all about pushing through, overcoming, and staying together. All those guys in there, they’re together. Not going anywhere. We’re ride or die. We’re all Chippewas. That’s what matters.”
CMU enters its offseason with its worst record since McElwain took over. McElwain has acknowledged that he shoulders much of the blame for the results but remains optimistic about CMU’s future.