The Western Michigan University Football team opened its home schedule with a 52-21 drubbing of the visiting Eastern Illinois University Panthers in front of a crowd of more than 22,500 at Waldo Stadium on Saturday night.
The Broncos (1-1, 0-0 MAC) offense was back to form as Alex Carder went 29-of-40 for 364 yards and 5 touchdowns. Freshman receiver Jaime Wilson continued to turn heads with a freshman record-setting performance, hauling in 11 receptions for 154 yards and a pair of TD’s. Wilson also added 104 yards returning punts.
WMU never punted.
“It’s a great win and it’ll last for about twelve hours but then we’ll get back to work,” said WMU head coach Bill Cubit. “[Jaime] had a few big plays on offense and he’s pretty special returning punts. He’s a guy that during practice you don’t know if he’s fast enough, but in the game he is. But, I also used to think that of Jordan [White].”
WMU’s first defensive possession opened strong with a Paul Hazel sack and ended stronger with Louis Toler’s first interception since his freshman year.
“It definitely always feels good to have a pick,” said WMU junior cornerback Louis Toler. “Last year I didn’t get any obviously, and I just wanted to come out here tonight and do my job and that’s what happened.”
Toler added another interception, and Hazel added another sack, along with two-and-a-half tackles for loss.
“He just disrupts things,” Cubit said of Hazel. “I thought he played really well on special teams to coming down on those kickoffs. He’s a destructive guy and that’s what this defense is set up to do.”
The defense gave up some big plays in the first quarter and the result was a 14-14 tie heading into the second, but they locked down after that only allowing the Panthers (1-1, 0-0 OVC) a late “garbage-time” touchdown after the Brown and Gold put the game out of reach reeling off 38 unanswered points.
“They adjusted because when you play those teams it’s a feeling out process,” said Cubit. “They [EIU] racked up almost 600 yards last week, we just had to settle in and that’s what the kids did.”
Carder methodically marched WMU down the field time and time again despite the fact that the Bronco offense turned the ball over four times in EIU territory.
Those blemishes didn’t hurt the WMU on this day.
After the debacle at the University of Illinois last week, Carder needed to bounce back, and that’s what he did by throwing for five TD’s for the fifth time in his career.
“Going into this week it’s obviously a game you do expect to win,” said WMU QB Alex Carder. “At the same time it’s a night and day difference as far as how comfortable we were with each other.
After losing Timmy Keith for the season last week, Josh Schaffer and Eric Monette were injured in Saturday’s home opener, so Carder is searching for weapons.
“Having guys like [Jaime] out there, and [Braverman], and just some really good young talented kids that I can trust right now, that’s gonna go along way into the rest of the season,” Carder said. “Injuries are never a good thing, but knowing we have guys we can rely on at that time is huge for us as far as being comfortable in this offense.”
Next week, WMU will travel to face its second Big Ten foe of the season. The University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers are coming off of an impressive 44-7 victory over the University of New Hampshire.