Although Eastern Michigan won their game over Howard University on Friday night, the Bison impressed the HBCU football world. Many wondered could the Bison could pull off another upset the ilk of what the team did against UNLV in 2017. To start the game, it didn't seem likely.
Eastern Michigan bolted out to the early lead scoring the first touchdown of the game to go up 7-0 with 11:17 left in the first quarter. Howard couldn't convert on their next possession and were forced to punt deep into their own territory. Unfortunately, a poor snap resulted in a safety, giving the Eagles a 9-0 advantage.
Then, Eastern Michigan's Jaylon Jackson ran for an 84-yard kick return touchdown that put the team up 16-0. They scored again quarterback Austin Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Knue. The Eagles led 23-0 with 12:25 left in the first half.
Howard finally scored when quarterback Quinton Williams threw a touchdown to wide receiver Jamarr Ebron to make the score 23-6. The PAT was missed, leading to Eastern Michigan's Hamze El-Zayat running for a 96-yard kickoff return, pushing the lead to 30-9 going into halftime.
Howard looked like a brand-new team coming out of halftime. They deployed a heaving rushing attack led by running back Ian Wheeler. Wheeler picked up two first downs with a 21-yard rush & 26-yard rush to get the Bison into the red zone. Kasey Hawthorne then ran the ball in for a touchdown. After a successful PAT, Howard evened the score to 30-16.
The Howard defense was able to force a three-and-out on Eastern Michigan's next possession and scored another touchdown off of a Quinton Williams 23-yard pass to Kasey Hawthorne. After a successful PAT by Howard, the score was 30-23. The Bison scored 14 unanswered points as Eastern Michigan could figure out how to stop Howard's running game.
The Bison were in the position to tie the game starting the fourth quarter as they continued their offensive drive on the 45-yard line. However, a double penalty for intentional grounding and a personal foul pushed them back 20 yards, and they were forced to punt. Eastern Michigan regained possession and held the ball for a 7-minute, 71-yard drive that resulted in a successful 25-yard field goal that pushed the score 33-23. Howard was unable to score when they got the ball back with 4:04 left in the game, sealing the win for Eastern Michigan.
Howard's running backs had an impressive showing in the game and almost led in a historic comeback victory. Eden James was the top rushing leader among all running backs, gaining an impressive 96 yards on just nine attempts. His outstanding performance included a remarkable 50-yard run in the first quarter.
Ian Wheeler and Kasey Hawthorne also had a solid showing, with Wheeler finishing with 58 yards on seven attempts and Hawthone rushing for 47 yards on 7 attempts and a rushing touchdown as well as catching three passes for 37 yards and a passing touchdown.
Linebacker Christian White and senior defensive back Kenny Gallop, Jr. were the standouts of the game, each recording seven total tackles. Ray Williams, another defensive back, also made an impact by securing an interception.
Howard will face off against Morehouse in their home opener on September 9th at 7 PM EST. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.