Broncos hold off Eastern Michigan 45-31
Published 3:19 pm Sunday, October 23, 2016
KALAMAZOO — For the first time since 1941, the Western Michigan Broncos are 8-0.
The No. 20-ranked Broncos defeated Eastern Michigan, 45-31, to improve to 8-0 and 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference.
The eight-straight wins matches the 1941 team’s program record and the 2016 Broncos have a chance to write another chapter of history when they go for their ninth win on Nov. 1 at Ball State.
Senior quarterback Zach Terrell threw for a career-high 398 yards and senior wide receiver Carrington Thompson scored two touchdowns and amassed a career-high 177 yards receiving to lead WMU to victory.
Eastern Michigan gave the Broncos their best test yet of the conference season. WMU briefly trailed for the first time this season on their home field, but had a strong end to the second quarter and carried it into the second half.
Western Michigan’s defense did what it does best to start the game, forcing an Eastern Michigan fumble on an Eagle run in Broncos’ territory to take over at the WMU 17. From there, Terrell spread the ball around to four receivers, ending on a 32-yard pass to Carrington Thompson who made three defenders miss for the touchdown.
EMU scored on its next drive and Western Michigan responded to go up 14-7. Michael Henry pulled in a 36-yard reception and then WMU backs Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan went to work on the ground. Franklin ran it in from 2-yards out for his 37th career touchdown run.
Eastern Michigan showed that it is a much-improved team from seasons past, and ran off 10-straight points to take a 17-14 lead. Terrell was picked off for the first time this season, resulting in a field goal for the Eagles. On their next possession, the Eagles scored a 29-yard touchdown on fourth-and-6 from the WMU 29-yard line.
Western Michigan didn’t flinch after losing the lead and rolled off 10-straight points of its own to go back on top and take a 24-17 advantage into halftime. Thompson hauled in a career-long 51-yard reception and Bogan ran the ball in from six yards out for his first touchdown of the game. WMU redshirt freshman Obbie Jackson snagged his first career interception with 39 seconds remaining in the half, helping set up a 44-yard field goal from Butch Hampton.
Thompson’s career day continued in the second half as he had two more catches on WMU’s opening drive of the third quarter. The second was an eight-yard touchdown reception as Terrell scrambled and found Thompson for a sliding catch.
Following a score by EMU, Western Michigan put together a nine-play, 70-yard drive to take a 34-28 lead. Corey Davis had the ESPN-worthy catch of the game when he reached over and in front of his defender for a 31-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone. It was Davis’ 11th touchdown grab of the season, putting him two shy of breaking the program record, and gave WMU a 38-24 lead.
WMU worked almost seven minutes off the clock with a 13-play, 80-yard drive to open the fourth quarter. Thompson made two more receptions, giving him eight for the evening and Franklin and Bogan once again pounded the ball on the ground. Bogan’s one-yard touchdown run put WMU up 45-24.
Eastern Michigan scored its final touchdown with 3:21 remaining. With the loss, EMU’s record falls to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.
Junior linebacker Robert Spillane led WMU defensively, making a career-high 14 tackles. The Bronco secondary had six pass breakups.
Who stood out
Sr. QB Zach Terrell: 398 yards passing, 3 TDs, 29-35-1 (C-A-I)
Sr. WR Carrington Thompson: 177 yards receiving, 2 TDs, 8 catches
Jr. RB Jarvion Franklin: 114 yards rushing, 1 TD
Jr. LB Robert Spillane: 14 tackles
Western Michigan will have 10 days off before its first midweek MAC game of the year, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, when it heads to Muncie, Indiana to face Ball State.