Ohio Wins The East: A Roundup Of Tuesday Night MACtion

Ohio 9, Akron 3:

In a game that was the antithesis of MACtion, the Ohio Bobcats advanced to the MAC title game with a 9-3 win over the Akron Zips.

Absolutely nothing about this game was pretty. From both teams failing to accumulate 300 yards of total offense to multiple missed chances from Ohio to put the game away, it was an exercise in futility that ended with success for the Bobcats.

To fully put it into perspective, you have to take a look at the Akron offensive production. They ended the night with back to back 51 yard drives with their season on the line. Neither drive ended in points, but they put up 45% of their total offense on those two drives. Think about that for a moment. In the previous eight drives, they had a total of 42 plays for 124 yards. That is 2.95 yards per play. Really, that actually happened. And they still had a chance to win the game in the end. I just don’t even know.

The reason Akron had a chance to win the game in the end despite the offense doing everything possible to give the game away was a strong defense/futile Ohio offense. The Bobcats moved the ball and were determined beyond reason to play the field position game all night long. It is a surprise that they didn’t take more chances with Akron unable to take a step forward without tripping and landing on their face.

Beyond comprehension, Akron actually had the first chance to draw blood in the game. The defense forced a Bobcats fumble at the Ohio 40-yard line, giving them excellent field position. Six plays and 14, yes 14 yards later, the Zips lined up for a 43-yard field goal. That attempt was no good, leaving the score tied at 0-0.

Ohio responded with their best two drives of the first half, but were stopped short of paydirt on both occasions to take a 6-0 lead at the half.

Let’s just fast forward through most of the second half and get to the good part with Ohio leading 9-3. The Bobcats, unable to find paydirt yet again, led by six points with only 5:59 left on the clock. Again defying every bit of logic in the known universe, Akron moved downfield and faced a fourth and one on the Ohio 43.

Many teams would then line up and power the ball with their best running back, but Akron is not just any team. They instead line up with the tight end as the wildcat quarterback and gain 19 yards for a first down. Three plays later, Akron had their one chance at a win, but JoJo Natson dropped the pass attempt. Ohio easily stopped the fourth and long, running out the clock for the 9-3 win.

With the win, Ohio goes to the MAC title game to face the winner of Toledo and Western Michigan. For Akron, their season is over. Sorry, try again next year.

Miami 21, Ball State 20:

On a night when they struggled to finish drives, the Miami RedHawks dug deep and found a way to win yet again in defeating a game Ball State Cardinals squad 21-20 on senior night.

Rewind six games in the schedule. Miami was sitting at 0-6 after losing to both Ohio and Akron. They looked like a snakebitten team that would be lucky to win three games. The one positive they had going for them was some health returning to the team, particularly at quarterback.

They found a way to beat Kent State in an ugly game, and then went on a run. Wins over Bowling Green, EMU, and CMU suddenly put them at 4-6 with outside hope at a bowl berth. They struggled, but put away Buffalo and suddenly they weren’t just playing for a bowl berth. Instead, a win and a Ohio loss would vault them into the MAC title game. They did their part with Akron coming up just short on a comeback bit, giving the division crown to Ohio.

They do have a pretty nice consolation prize: becoming the first team to ever go from 0-6 to 6-6 and a trip to a bowl when no one thought that was possible.

Ball State looked for a long time to be playing spoiler as they scored two first half touchdowns and added a last second field goal to take a 17-7 lead to the half.

Needing a response, quarterback Gus Ragland again dug deep with a 74-yard pass to Rokeem Williams that turned a 10-point deficit into a field goal game. It was the same recipe of the entire winning streak to hang around and come up with a big play when needed to either get back in a game or take the lead.

Ball State was not about to fold and marched 57 yards to the Miami eight yard line. The RedHawks came up with just enough of a stop on defense to keep the Cardinals out of the endzone. A Morgan Hagee field goal gave Ball State a 20-14 lead.

Punting the ball back and forth, Ragland and company finally woke up again when it was needed the most. The RedHwaks drove to the Ball State 27-yard line, but looked to be in trouble with a third and 14. Instead of looking to get the first down, Ragland went for it all, finding Sam Shisso for a 27-yard score to take a 21-20 lead with 5:44 left in the game.

Ball State had one last chance to answer, but strangely decided to punt on a fourth and two at the Miami 48-yard line. They never saw the ball again as Alonzo Smith six times for 55 yards, including a 50 yarder that allowed the RedHawks to run out the clock.

With the win, Miami is bowl eligible. We will write more on this in coming days, but congrats RedHawks. For Ball State, they end the season at 4-8 after a very promising start.

Eastern Michigan 26, Central Michigan 21:

Despite blowing a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter, the Eastern Michigan Eagles improved to 7-5 with a 26-21 win over rival Central Michigan.

The Eagles dominated statistically, but could not finish drives throughout the game. They had multiple opportunities to put away the pesky Chippewas, but had to settle for field goals and points left on the field. In vintage 2015 EMU fashion, they found a way to put it all together for one drive, moving 72 yards in just over two minutes to score the game winning touchdown with :21 left on the clock.

It was all EMU early on with the defense confusing the Chippewas and the offense moving the ball in impressive fashion. Outside of an interception in the second drive of the game, the start could not have been more perfect. Then, CMU found an offensive spark with Cooper Rush connecting with Corey Willis for a 43-yard pitch and catch to the EMU 30. The Chippewas then chipped away at EMU, slowly finding their way closer and closer to the endzone until Devon Spalding rammed it in from one yard out to cut the lead to 14-7.

Two second half field goals by EMU extended the lead to 20-7 in the fourth quarter with many in attendance sure of an Eagles victory. The Chippewas took advantage of EMU allowing them to stay in the game, mounting drives of 77 and 87 yards in the final quarter. The first ended with Spalding finding the endzone for the second time and cutting the EMU lead to 20-14 with 12:31 left in the game.

The final scoring drive for CMU started at their own 13-yard line. Rush dinked and dunked downfield to the EMU 41-yard line, before they faced a fourth and one. They went with the hot hand and gave the ball to Spalding, watching him scamper 41 yards for his third touchdown of the day. A Brain Eavey PAT gave CMU their first lead of the game at 21-20 with 2:34 left.

Needing a score of any kind to win the game, Roback and company again used the big play to move the ball into CMU territory. The junior quarterback hit Dieuly Aristilde for a 30-yard reception to the CMU 37. Three plays later, the Eagles faced a fourth and six at the 33-yard line. Roback again found Aristilde to keep the drive alive.

Still in iffy range for a field goal attempt, the Eagles pulled a Miami and went for it all. Roback hit star receiver Sergio Bailey for a 24-yard touchdown score to stun the Chippewas for a 26-21 win.

With the win, the Eagles are 7-5 and now await their bowl destination. Hopefully it is not a trip to the Bahamas as a majority of their fanbase would be unable to attend their first bowl game in nearly 30 yards.

CMU falls to 6-6 on the year in an increasingly frustrating season. No one thought that CMU would be sitting at .500 on the year after such an impressive start to the season. They, like EMU, await their bowl destination.

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