Champaign, Ill. — Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton clearly enjoyed the postgame media gathering following his team's impressive last-second 34-31 road win over Illinois on Saturday.
"I love this team," he said, smiling. "I mean, wow. What a great bunch of guys."
Creighton had good reason to be joyous. Chad Ryland booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles their third win over a Big Ten team, following victories against Rutgers in 2017 and Purdue in 2018.
Mike Glass was 23 of 36 for 316 yards and three touchdowns to lead EMU (2-1). Jarius Grissom rushed three times for 52 yards, while Willie Parker had 23 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
"Awesome, awesome day for our program," Creighton said. "Our defense played well. We knew we weren't going to shut them out, because they are really good, but we did what we needed to. Our guys just executed."
Former Michigan QB Brandon Peters was 22 of 37 for 297 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception for Illinois (2-1). Reggie Corbin, who sat out the last game with a hip pointer, carried the ball 18 times for 144 yards for the Illini.
"A lot of people need to do a better job, including me," said Illinois coach Lovie Smith. "We didn't play our best today, but we have a lot to build on. We're a 2-1 football team, so we've done some good things.
Next week (against conference foe Nebraska) will be a better indicator of where we are."
In a first-half shootout, both teams showed plenty of offense and periods of ineffective defense. The Eagles rushed for 93 yards and Glass was 11 of 20 for 183 yards and three touchdowns, while Illinois rushed for 76 yards and Peters went 13 of 17 for 164 yards and one TD.
"One positive? We were down by 14 points at one point and still managed to get ourselves into a position to win the game," Smith said. "We have to maintain a sense of consistency, in both halves, whether it's running, passing or on defense."
Illinois was still in the hunt with less than three minutes left after tying the game at 31 on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Josh Imatorbhebhe.
But Glass, who looked calm and collected all day, methodically put his team in a position to win with a 23-yard pass to Dylan Drummond followed by a 13-yard run by Breck Turner. Ryland then trotted onto the field with one second left for the game winner.
"They beat us up front," Smith said of his Illini. "It's a one-on-one battle out there, and the losing team doesn't win that battle. That was us today."
Creighton credited hard work and preparation for his team's win. "We definitely had a better week of practice this week," he said. "We prepared hard. Our team believes, and that's deep and very powerful when it comes to a game like this."
(At) Central Michigan 45, Akron 24: David Moore threw for 316 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his Central Michigan debut in a Mid-American Conference opener.
Moore, a junior who spent the 2016-17 seasons at Memphis where he played in five games, was 20 of 31 for 316 yards. He tossed a 2-yard score to Tony Polijan and a 35-yarder to Kalil Pimpleton late in the second half to make it 27-3. Pimpleton finished with seven catches for 116 yards.
Kobe Lewis had 27 carries for 146 yards and three touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter for Central Michigan.
Kato Nelson threw for 243 yards for Akron, completing 25 of 41 attempts with three touchdowns and an interception. Nelson carried 16 times for 26 yards and was the leading rusher for the Zips, who managed just 40 total yards on the ground. Nate Stewart had five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
It was the first conference opening win for Central Michigan (2-1, 1-0) since it beat Northern Illinois 29-19 in 2015.
Akron has lost three straight to start the season.
(At) Western Michigan 57, Georgia State 10: LeVante Bellamy rushed for 192 yards and three scores as Western Michigan totaled a school-record seven rushing touchdowns.
Bellamy had 11 carries for 179 yards and 3 TDs at the half. Sean Tyler finished with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Bellamy broke for a 60-yard touchdown sprint to start the scoring early in the first and added a 73-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter. Tyler broke for a 61-yard scoring scamper and added another for 30 yards in the second as the Broncos sprinted to a 43-10 halftime lead.
Jon Wassink threw for 246 yards and one score with Skyy Moore hauling in six for 97 yards. The Broncos also rushed for 450 yards while limiting Georgia State to 336 total yards.
Western Michigan (2-1) will go up against Syracuse next Saturday.
Tra Barnett ran for 127 yards and Dan Ellington threw for 126 yards and one touchdown for Georgia State (2-1) which opened the season with a 38-30 upset of Tennessee and 48-42 win over Furman.
(At) Truman State 35, Wayne State 12: Truman State (2-0) took a 35-0 lead by the early moments of the third quarter behind two touchdown passes from Jaden Barr to Spencer Newell and a touchdown run by Barr. The Warriors (0-2).got on the board with touchdown runs by James Hill and King Sanders. Dakota Cupp gained 103 yards on 14 carries for Wayne State.
(At) Saginaw Valley 35, Tiffin 20: Saginaw Valley (2-0) led 28-0 at halftime on touchdown runs by Marcus Edmondson, TD passes from Ryan Conklin to Casey Williams and Chad Gailliard and an 87-yard return of a missed field goal by Justin Whitted. Conklin finished with 11 of 15 passes completed for 170 yards.
Davenport 13, (at) Lake Erie 9: Gabe Ford scored on a 1-yard run and Chris Ahmed kicked field goals of 16 and 41 yards for Davenport (1-0). Deondre Ford completed 14 of 27 passes for 167 yards.
Michigan Tech 24, (at) McKendree 19: Jordan Ferguson, Will Ark and Jacob Wenzlick rushed for touchdowns for Michigan Tech (2-0). Ark completed 10 of 19 passes for 137 yards.
(At) Texas-Permian Basin 40, Northern Michigan 24: Ryshon King rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and Ryan Johnson passed for 246 yards and one touchdown for Northern (1-1). UT Permian Basin is 2-0.
(At) Grand Valley State 28, Delta State 24: Cade Peterson and Aryuan Cain-Veasey rushed for touchdowns in the last 6 minutes as Grand Valley (2-0) rallied to victory. Daevon Anderson caught two passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Delta State is 1-1.
(At) Findlay 31, Northwood 21: Cashual Goldsmith rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown for Northwood (0-2). Findlay is 1-1.
Ripon 45, (at) Finlandia 12: Ripon (1-1) took control with 31 uninterrupted points in the second quarter.
(At) Hanover 49, Adrian 28: Hanover (1-1) scored the game's first 42 points. Jack Wurzer completed 22 of 34 passes for 308 yards and Jerome Neal rushed for two TDs for Adrian (0-2).
(At) Hope 80, Defiance 6: Kenyea Houston rushed for two touchdowns and Brandon Anderson rushed for one and caught another. Mason Opple completed 10 of 13 passes for 263 yards for Hope (1-1). Defiance is 0-2.
Olivet 54, (at) Concordia Chicago 24: Kaleb Jarrett completed 14 of 16 passes for 219 yards and rushed for two touchdowns for Olivet (2-0).
(At) Greenville 31, Kalamazoo 17: Greenville took control with 21 straight points over the second and third quarters. Pierce Burke and Jared Pittman scored touchdowns for Kalamazoo. Both teams are 1-1.
Albion 48, (at) Franklin 26: Kyle Thomas threw three touchdown passes to Justin Thomas and two to Marlon Martin, and finished completing 22 of 30 passes for 263 yards. Albion is 2-0, Franklin 0-2.
Alma 35, (at) Manchester 7: Chase Hinkle scored on a 4-yard run and a 42-yard punt return for Alma (1-1). Manchester is 0-2.