Eastern came in with a narrow loss to FBS Northern Illinois (34-27) and a 38-20 loss to Tennessee Chattanooga (Illinois next opponent)
And at first..the Redbirds forced a punt and then scored on their first possession possession off of a long drive. But Eastern answered with a drive of their own, getting receivers wide open over the middle. So, it was 7-7 in the first and I settled in for a shootout.
The Redbirds countered with another drive to lead 14-7..then the tide really started to turn.
A 41 yard interception return just before the half (Eastern tried for one last drive) made it 21-7 at the half.
It was to get worse.
Second half: the Redbirds had a fourth and short inside the Eastern 40 but decided to pooch punt it, and downed the ball at the 1! That paid off as a screen pass was intercepted at the 2 and run in for the score, and now it was 28-7.
The Redbird defense took over after than, getting a fumble recovery at the 4 yard line (after a bad shotgun snap..Eastern had trouble with this for much of the second half)
That made it 35-7, and then the Redbirds focused on running and grinding out the clock.
The Redbirds sacked the quarterback 4 times and had 11 tackles for losses. In fact, until the final Eastern drive, they had negative yards rushing.