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EMU Football Loses Another Close Game In Toledo

Eastern Michigan University

From For the third consecutive week, the Eastern Michigan University football team dropped a game by a single possession as it fell to Mid-American Conference West Division rival the University of Toledo, 20-15, Saturday afternoon, Oct. 7, inside the Glass Bowl. The Eagles (2-3, 0-2 MAC) had the ball down five with a minute to play, but a Rockets' (4-1, 1-0 MAC) interception sealed the five-point defeat.

Read complete coverage of the exciting game and see post-game videos here

Listen to WEMU's broadcast coverage of the game here: 

The EMU defense held Toledo to its fewest point total of the season, as the Rockets came into the game averaging 42 points per game. It was also UT's fewest points score since Sept. 12, 2015, vs. the University of Arkansas. Sophomore Vince Calhoun (Middletown, Ohio-Middletown) was the standout defensively, as he tallied a career-high 16 tackles, including 10 solos. It was the most tackles by an Eagle since 2015.
EMU continued its presence in the offensive backfield, as they notched six tackles for loss, including four sacks. Sophomore Maxx Crosby (Colleyville, Texas-Colleyville Heritage) registered two TFLs and a sack, while sophomore Brody Hoying (Coldwater, Ohio-Coldwater) and senior Luke Maclean (Grand Blanc, Mich.-Grand Blanc (Pittsburgh)) added a sack apiece. Juniors Tyler LaBarbera (Elk Grove Village, Ill.-James B. Conant (DuPage)) and Desmond Kelly (Baltimore, Md.-Overlea (Dodge City C.C.)) also added half a sack each, the first of their careers.
Offensively, Eastern totaled 326 yards of offense, including 253 through the air and 73 on the ground. Senior Brogan Roback (Maumee, Ohio-Toledo St. Johns Jesuit), in his final game in his home city, passed for 226 yards on 23 completions, and added two touchdowns. He now has 43 for his EMU career, tying him with Walter Church for second on the all-time EMU list.
The veteran found nine different receivers, the fifth consecutive game he has completed passes to eight-plus targets, with senior Sergio Bailey II (San Diego, Calif.-Olympian (Grossmont)) leading the way with four catches for 72 yards. The two scores were completed to fellow seniors, the first to Johnnie Niupalau(San Mateo, Calif.-San Mateo (College of San Mateo)), and the second to Antoine Porter (San Francisco, Calif.-Mission (College of SF)). They were the second of both of their respective seasons. On the ground, junior Ian Eriksen (Clarkston, Mich.-Clarkston) paced EMU with a season-high 54 yards on nine carries, good for an average of six yards per touch.
Toledo received to start the game, and quickly drove into EMU territory on a pair of long passes. With first and goal to go, EMU's defense stood tall, aided by an 11-yard Crosby sack to set up third and goal from the 18. After stopping a rush, UT settled for a 27-yard field goal to open the scoring at 3-0.
On EMU's first possession, it started with the ball on its own 43 following a penalty, and moved the ball just like the Rockets did. With a pair of passes from Roback to Bailey II and senior Jaron Johnson (Moreno Valley, Calif.-Rancho Verde (San Jacinto College)), EMU set up at the UT 33. That's where the drive stalled, however, forcing a 50-yard field goal. The kick had the distance, but was wide, keeping it a three-point game.
For the second consecutive drive, UT raced down the field, using a couple of personal foul penalties to get to EMU's 11. For the second time as well, the Eagles stalled the drive before the goal line, forcing another short field goal. This time, the snap was botched and the kick was missed, keeping it 3-0 with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Eastern put the three minutes of time to good use, going 80 yards in seven plays to get on the board with the first touchdown of the game. EMU got the drive started with a pair of runs by Eriksen for first downs to get to the EMU 43.
A pass interference penalty moved the ball into UT territory and then a trick play, a pass of 27 yards from sophomore Isaac Holder (Tampa, Fla.-Sickles) to Bailey II, set up EMU at the Rocket 15. Later, on third and six, Roback found Niupalau for an 11-yard TD strike, but the extra point sailed wide, leaving the score at 6-3.
Following back-to-back empty possessions that resulted in punts, UT took over at its own four yard line. The Rockets scooted down the field on a trio of long passes, getting to EMU's 28. After advancing to the Eastern 15, EMU shored things up again, forcing the 35-yard field goal. The kick was wide left, the second miss of the game, keeping the Eagles ahead by three with 6:10 until halftime.
After another EMU punt, Toledo started a drive at its own 48. Eastern forced third and long after a Crosby tackle for loss, but a pass interference bailed out the Rockets, keeping the drive alive. Toledo wound up taking full advantage, as, six plays later, UT punched in a one-yard run on fourth down to regain the lead, 10-6, which was the score that remained in the half.
Eastern started the second half with its fourth straight punt, and UT took over at midfield looking to build on the lead. The Rockets worked their way down into the EMU red zone in just four plays, setting up first down and goal from the seven. After a couple of minimal gain plays, UT's quarterback appeared to find the end zone on a scramble, but after review was ruled short. On fourth down and just inches from the goal line, EMU's front line got a superior push, led by LaBarbera, to halt Toledo from scoring, and turning the ball over on downs.
Another quick offensive possession, and short punt, gave the Rockets the ball back with a short field not long after the goal line stand. They needed just one play to capitalize, an 18-yard rush, to score their second touchdown and push the EMU deficit to 17-6 with 7:51 left in the third.
Facing its largest deficit of the afternoon, EMU's offense got to work, starting with a 29-yard screen pass from Roback to junior Shaq Vann (South Bend, Ind.-John Adams) to set up EMU at the Toledo 39. A seven-yard pass to Johnson, and a short rush from Vann, gave Eastern another first down, but from there the drive went stagnant, forcing the field goal attempt. Sophomore Paulie Fricano (Rochester, N.Y.-Churchville-Chili) drilled the 46-yarder, tying his career-high, to close the gap to eight, 17-9.
Toledo's ensuing possession had some legs, as UT got three straight first downs to advance to EMU's 31. The Eagles then used back-to-back sacks from Hoying and Maclean to halt the drive, and force a punt. The kick got caught up in the wind, traveling just seven yards, allowing the Eagles to begin their drive at their own 28 with just a minute and a half until the fourth. EMU didn't get anywhere with the drive, going three-and out to maintain the 17-9 score into the fourth.
The Eagles forced their first three-and-out of the game to begin the fourth, and Eastern got the ball back early in the frame. A pair of passes to sophomore Dieuly Aristilde Jr. (Boynton Beach, Fla.-Boynton Beach) and Bailey II advanced EMU 30 yards into the Toledo side of the field.
Vann then ran four times and caught two passes for a total of 35 yards to get EMU to the 12. On second down, Roback found A. Porter in the corner of the end zone for the score, making it a two-point game. The two-point conversion was initially ruled good, but after review was overturned, keeping the score 17-15 with just under 10 minutes to play.
UT came back on their next drive with some quick strikes to get around midfield, but another sack, this time from D. Kelly and LaBarbera, kept UT from getting  any further. Toledo punted once again, giving Eastern a chance to regain the lead with 6:54 remaining.
Starting at its own nine, EMU got to the 32 after a late hit penalty. On third down, Roback's pass up the middle would have been good for a first down, but the ball was deflected into the air and intercepted, giving UT the ball at the EMU 22 with 5:27 remaining. Toledo got down to a first and goal opportunity, but a third down pass in the end zone was broken up by sophomore Jalen Phelps (Marietta, Ga.-Hillgrove) to force a short field goal. UT nailed the 20-yarder to give the Rockets a 20-15 cushion with just under three minutes to go.
With the game on the line, Roback and the offense went to work. The veteran completed passes to A. Porter and sophomore Mathew Sexton (Clinton, Mich.-Clinton) to get near midfield with just over a minute left on the clock. After plays for little gain, EMU had fourth and long, but Roback avoided pressure to get the first down with an 11-yard pass to Sexton.
The clock ticked under a minute as Eriksen rushed for a long gain around the outside to the UT 32, but a holding call brought the ball back. On the very next play, Toledo jumped an out-route, and notched the game sealing INT, ending the contest with the 20-15 tally.
EMU wraps up its three-game road stand next week when it completes non-conference play in New York against the Army West Point Black Knights. Kickoff from Michie Stadium is set for noon, Saturday, Oct. 14.

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at

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