Broncos Ground the Eagles

It was a tale of two halves at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti on Saturday. In front of a reported 19,963 fans (the 13th largest crowd in Rynearson Stadium history), the Broncos of Western Michigan University overcame a 3-0 first half deficit to the Eastern Michigan University Eagles to win going away 31-3.

The Broncos defense stood tall in the first half allowing only a 32-yard field goal by Andrew Wellock following the Broncos only turnover of the game, a David Lusky interception of a Chad Munson pass that gave the Eagles the ball at the Broncos 40 yard line late in the first quarter. Eleven plays and 24 yards later the Eagles had to settle for Wellock's field goal.

The Broncos special teams, which are still a work in progress, saw Isac Bush handle the kickoffs and Robert Menchinger attempted a 38-yard field goal at the 9:32 mark of the second quarter. Despite having enough distance the football sailed wide right. Adam Anderson continued to put his foot into the ball by getting off a 53 yard punt and averaging 40 yards a punt in the first half.

The Broncos defense only allowed the Eagles 83 total net yards in the first half. Kevin Ford also intercepted a Chinedu Okoro pass but the Broncos were unable to capitalize on the turnover. The defense only allowed the Eagles 74 yards rushing and sacked Okoro twice for a loss of twelve yards. Okoro completed 6 of 12 passes for 9 yards and the one interception.

The Broncos offense struggled as well in the first half with relatively good field position the broncos were only able to gain 33 yards rushing and Chad Munson threw 10 completions in 18 passing attempts for 93 yards and the one interception. Munson was also sacked once for a 2-yard loss. The Broncos finished the half with 126 total net yards in 30 plays.

Nothing was really said in the Broncos locker room at halftime because the team knew what they had to do so they came out in the second half and went to work and let their actions do their speaking for them.

Receiving the third quarter kickoff the Broncos drove down the field in 8 plays and 80 yards to take the lead. With passes of 10 yards to Greg Jennings, 19 yards to Antonio Thomas and 11 yards to Phil Reed, combined with a couple of short runs by Reed, the Broncos were faced with a 3rd down and 10 at the Eagles 34-yard line. Munson found Greg Jennings for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Menchinger kept up his perfect PAT attempts to give the Broncos the 7-3 lead.

Following a missed 54-yard field goal attempt by Wellock for the Eagles, the Broncos wasted no time in moving the ball again. With less than 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter Reed rushed for 8 yards, Munson connected with Kendrick Mosley on a 46-yard pass play that put the ball on the Eagles 9-yard line. Earlier in the game Mosley caught 8-yard pass to continue his consecutive game streak with catching a pass. His streak now stands at 35 games. Reed then finished off the drive on the next play with a 9-yard run for a touchdown. Menchinger connected on his 65th consecutive PAT attempt to give the Broncos a 14-3 lead.

The Broncos first drive in the fourth quarter took 3:46 to go 8 plays in 75 yards. Reed rushed for 6 yards, but a false start on the next play moved the ball back five yards. Munson then called on Mr. Reliable (Mosley) for a 28-yard gain. Reed then gained two yards and Munson followed with an 11-yard run of his own. Jennings then was called on an end-around and gained 9 yards himself. After another two yard gain by Reed, Munson connected with Jennings again for Jennings second touchdown, this time on a 22-yard pass play. Menchinger's kick of the PAT gave the Broncos a 21-3 lead causing many of the fans in attendance to start heading for the door.

The Broncos offense had no time to rest though because the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Trumaine Riley after Darrell Copeland forced the ball loose. Ernest Osborne recovered the fumble at the Eagles 9-yard line. The Broncos however were only able to gain four yards on two rushes by Phil Reed and after a pass to Mosley in the endzone that was ruled out-of-bounds the Broncos settled for a 27-yard field goal by Menchinger. Menchinger's field goal gave the Broncos a 24-3 lead.

The Eagles were unable to move the ball the rest of the afternoon. Their next drive netted a loss of 1-yard in 5 plays before forced to punt. After the Broncos were forced to a 3-and-out, the Eagles turned the ball over on their next possession. On the first play of the drive Greg Bryant and Nick Melcher came together on Okoro for a 7-yard sack. On the next play Scott Robinson intercepted an Okoro pass and returned it to the Eagles 16-yard line.

On the Broncos first play Munson connected with Tyson DeVree in the endzone on a diving catch for the Broncos final touchdown of the game. Menchinger added the teams 67th consecutive PAT to give the Broncos a 31-3 lead and the final points of the game.

Munson finished the game completing 19 of 32 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice. Reed rushed for 80 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown and the team gained a total of 95 yards on the ground. The Broncos gained a total of 377 net yards in the game. Also the 3 for 3 in red zone attempts increased the Broncos red zone scoring to 18 for 20 this season.

For the Eagles Anthony Sherrell gained 128 of the Eagles 134 total net yards. Sherrell gained 116 yards rushing and caught 5 passes for 12 yards. Okoro completed 11 of 20 passes for 46 yards and was sacked six times.

The Broncos have won consecutive games for the first time since the 2001 season when the Broncos beat Eastern Michigan at Rynearson Stadium then came home to Waldo and beating Akron and Bowling Green.

The Broncos (3-2, 2-0 MAC) returned home to Waldo Stadium next Saturday when they host Bowling Green (4-1, 1-0 MAC) at 2:00pm in WMU's 2003 Homecoming game. The Eagles (1-5, 0-2 MAC) travel to Toledo (3-2, 1-0 MAC) on Saturday.

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