A clearly inspired Eagle outfit—motivated to give its lame-duck coach a victory in the 2008 season finale—rose to the occasion to stun Central Michigan at Rynearson Stadium. Eastern Michigan—the winner of just one Mid-American Conference game heading into this contest—took down a Chippewa club that had won the last two conference championships before being dethroned this season by undefeated Ball State. Despite failing to win the MAC West for a third consecutive year, Central Michigan still stood at 6-1 in league play, and still figured to prevail in Ypsilanti, even on a mediocre day. It was going to take something special for the Eagles to fly high enough (and long enough) to pull off the upset.
Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones promptly and powerfully answered the call for their coach.
Schmitt, the EMU quarterback, had a career day, throwing for a whopping 516 yards on a staggering 80 pass attempts. Schmitt completed 58 of those 80 throws—an NCAA record—for five touchdowns, enabling the Eagles to overcome 555 total yards produced by the Chippewas, led by their five-star field general, Dan LeFevour. Only slightly outdueled by Ball State superstar Nate Davis in a scintillating duel on Nov. 19, LeFevour threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns on this afternoon, and on most days, such a prolific performance would have translated into a victory. This, however, wasn’t a typical day at the office in the MAC West. Not with the pitch-and-catch potency of Schmitt, whose huge effort was aided by an equally spectacular showcase of skill by his favorite target, receiver Tyler Jones.
In one of the greatest single-game feats in college football history, Jones caught 23 of Schmitt’s 58 completed passes to tie an NCAA Division I (FBS) record, all while tallying 170 yards in this football fight filled with fireworks. With so many passes being completed by the Eagles, someone had to accumulate video-game-type numbers, and Jones became that man. So genuinely awesome was Jones that EMU’s number-two receiver, Jacory Stone, caught 10 passes—an outstanding day by any objective standard—and yet found himself a distant second on the stat sheet in the Eagles’ receiving corps.
Jeff Genyk might find it hard to forget most of his five unfulfilled seasons at Eastern Michigan, but the Lloyd Carr disciple will always want to remember the day after Thanksgiving in 2008, when his quarterback—aided by a remarkable receiver--produced a level of football that would be hard to eclipse, anywhere and anytime. Andy Schmitt, Tyler Jones, and the rest of the Eastern Michigan Eagles gave themselves—and their coach, now in search of a new job—one fabulous Thanksgiving present against Central Michigan University.