In it first road contest of the 2014 season, the Eastern Michigan University football team suffered a 65-0 setback at the hands of the University of Florida Saturday afternoon, Sept. 6, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators' offense jumped on the board early with 17 first quarter points as the Eagles were kept off the scoreboard for the first time in 69 games, dating back to Sept. 27, 2008, against Northern Illinois University.
The contest marked the first loss of the season for the Green and White as well as the first with Head Coach Chris Creighton. Meanwhile, UF snapped a seven-game losing skid to improve to 1-0 after having its game a week earlier cancelled due to weather.
Five turnovers hurt the Eagles as the offense picked up 125 yards. Brogan Roback (Maumee, Ohio-Toledo St. Johns Jesuit) went 5-for-10 as Eastern used three different quarterbacks throughout the day. EMU starting quarterback Reginald Bell (Los Angeles, Calif.-Susan Miller Dorsey) was the team's leading rusher alongside Tyler Allen (Lansing, Mich.-Eastern) as both Eagles ran for 20 yards on the ground, with all of Bell's coming in the opening half. Tyreese Russell (Melrose Park, Ill.-Walther Lutheran) caught two passes for 20 yards, while Dustin Creel (Industry, Pa.-Western Beaver) added 16 yards receiving on two catches.
On the defensive side of the ball, Great Ibe (Hanover, Md.-Meade-Concordia) and Ray Tillman (Auburn Hills, Mich.-Avondale) tallied a team-high 11 tackles. Tillman's double-digit day set a career best, tying the amount of tackles he recorded throughout the entire 2013 season. Reigning Mid-American Conference West Special Teams Player of the Week Nathan Adams (Crozier, Va.-Goochland) also chipped in on defense, making a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on a Florida fourth down play in the red zone.
Florida's Jeff Driskel went 31-for-45 for 248 yards, while backup quarterback Treon Harris completed a pair of passes for 148 yards. Demarcus Robinson led the receiving corps with six catches for 123 yards, including a 70-yards touchdown reception. The Gators chalked up 259 yards rushing as well for a total of 655 yards from scrimmage on the day.
Florida put the game's first points on the scoreboard as the Gators converted twice on fourth down. UF marched 63 yards down the field in 16 plays, taking 6:31 off the clock. On third and five from the EMU 16-yard line, Kevin Johnson (McKeesport, Pa.-McKeesport) made a spectacular breakup at the goal line to force the Gators to settle for three. A 33-yard attempt by Frankie Velez split the uprights to give Florida a 3-0 lead.
The Gators increased their lead to double digits after an EMU fumble gave Florida prime field position. On the next play, Kelvin Taylor found the end zone from 31 yards out, making it 10-0 with 6:00 remaining in the first quarter.
After another touchdown in the opening quarter, Florida added 13 more points in the second quarter. Midway through the quarter, Coach Creighton made a switch at quarterback, sending in Roback in place of Bell. The sophomore moved the EMU offense across midfield before the UF defense stood tall and forced a punt. Going into the locker room, the Eagles found themselves trailing, 30-0.
Bell led the EMU rushing attack in the first half with 20 yards on seven carries. Allen added a 16-yard rush on a jet sweep that gave the Eagles a first down. Through the air, Roback was 3-of-6 for 20 yards, while Bell completed two of his six passes for 12 yards. Russell and Creel both caught a pair of passes, totaling 16 and 12 yards, respectively. On defense, Ibe, Johnson and Tillman recorded six tackles apiece.
Turnover plagued Eastern in the first half as two fumbles gave Florida great field position. The Gators racked up 308 yards in the opening half, including 178 through the air by Driskel, who completed 23-of-33 passes. Driskel's favorite receivers were Clay Burton, who caught six passes for 39 yards, and Quinton Dubar, who made a 42-yard catch as part of a five-reception 81-yard first half. On the ground, Matt Jones ran for 61 yards, while Taylor added 41 of his own.
In the second half, Florida continued to put points on the scoreboard, including three touchdowns in the third quarter. Towards the end of the quarter, transfer quarterback Rob Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich.-Orchard Lake St. Mary's-Penn State-LSU) made his EMU debut to guide the Eagles' offense.
The Eagles remain of the road next week, traveling to Norfolk, Va. to face Old Dominion University, Sept. 13. Kickoff against the Monarchs is set for 6 p.m. and can be heard on the airwaves of WEMU 89.1 FM.
Head Coach Chris Creighton Postgame Quotes
"Hats off to Florida. With the game being canceled last week and this being their opener, they came out with a bang and played great. Great environment. We're definitely a disappointed group. One of the things that Eastern Michigan football has to learn is how to face, fight and defeat adversity, and it's just football adversity. That's going to be the key to making this program a winner. We got our fair share of it today. When you turn the ball over five times, it makes it tough, but we lost to a good football team today."
On Florida's defensive speed:
"They are fast at every position and well-coached. It's always a combination of miscueson our end and great play on the other end. If you false start when it's third and one, it's probably not a combination, it's on your own. We are going to look at the film and be really disappointed in our execution on both sides of the ball. There are plenty of things
for us to get better at and to fix."