A late touchdown drive and interception by Eastern Michigan lifted the Eagles past the University of Wyoming, 27-24 on Friday in Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Pokes fall to 2-2 with the Eagles moving to 3-1 on the season.
“It was a hard fought game and we knew we were evenly matched,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said, “We had good things happen, but had also had some things happen that need to be corrected.”
The Cowboys recorded four interceptions on the day including two for touchdowns. It was the most interceptions since recording four against Ole Miss in Laramie in 2004. It was also the first time UW had returned two interceptions for touchdowns since 2013 against Northern Colorado.
Bohl commented on the Pokes’ defensive backfield after the game. “The secondary is playing more explosive. It is very encouraging to see their play develop.”
Sophomore Marcus Epps recorded two interceptions for the Cowboys including one for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Logan Wilson also returned an interception for a touchdown. Sophomore Antonio Hull added his first career interception as a Cowboy.
Redshirt sophomore Josh Allen was 19-of-29 passing for 234 yards. Junior running back Brian Hill rushed for 82 yards on 22 carries. He now needs 74 yards to become Wyoming’s all-time leader in rushing. Senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry had a career-high 12 receptions for 127 yards. It was his sixth game with over 100 yards in his career and third this season.
Epps opened the scoring with a 66-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was his third career interception and his first for a touchdown. It marked the first Wyoming interception for a touchdown since Cortland Fort and Jordan Stanton each picked off passes for touchdowns against Northern Colorado in 2013.
The Eagles responded with a field goal on a six play, 61-yard drive to cut the deficit to 7-3. After a stalled Cowboy drive, sophomore Antonio Hull added his first career interception that resulted in a 36-yard field goal by freshman kicker Cooper Rothe to give UW a 10-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
After another interception by Epps, the Cowboy offense marched on an 11-play, 70 yard drive that ended in a five-yard Hill touchdown run to extend the Pokes lead in 17-3. Eastern Michgan responded with a touchdown run of 50-yards by Breck Turner to cut the UW lead to 17-10 with 7:49 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles created a turnover of their own at the end of the first half forcing a fumble by Gentry. The Eagles capitalized and tied the game on a touchdown pass from Todd Porter to Johnnie Niupalau to tie the contest going into halftime.
Eastern Michigan drove down the field to open the second half adding a 29-yard field goal to take a 20-17 lead. The Pokes nearly scored on a rush by Allen, but he came up just short of the goal line. The Eagles blocked the ensuing field goal attempt to hold their lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Pokes retook the lead on Wilson’s interception. Wilson’s first interception was returned 27 yards for the touchdown to give the Pokes a 24-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles would force a Cowboy punt late in the fourth quarter. The Eagle offense took a 27-24 lead on a 15-yard rush by Ian Eriksen. EMU closed the game with an interception with 1:29 left to earn the 27-24 win.
Senior Lucas Wacha and sophomore Andrew Wingard led UW with 11 tackles. Redshirt freshman Youhanna Ghaifan recorded a career-high seven tackles. Sophomore Conner Cain recorded his first career sack in the contest.
Eastern Michigan’s Eriksen rushed for 120 yards on 27 carries with the game winning touchdown. Wide receiver Sergio Bailey led EMU with five receptions for 66 yards.
Wyoming returns to action next Saturday against Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. Kickoff is slated for 8:15 on ESPNU.