Both sides of the ball got the job done for the Eagles (2-1), who totaled 357 yards of offense, including 285 through the air. Redshirt junior . . .
The two other Eagle scores came from a reception by redshirt freshman Nigel Kilby and a rush from redshirt sophomore Ian Eriksen, the second and fourth TDs, respectively, on the season for the duo.
Not to be outdone on the defensive side, the Eagles forced three turnovers on the night, including two interceptions from sophomore Jaylen Pickett, one of which he returned for a score. They were the first two interceptions of his career.
For the third consecutive game, EMU held its opponent to under 200-yards on the ground, as UNCC finished the day with 157 yards rushing. Redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Harris was EMU's leading tackler with 10 stops on the night, including one for loss. The Eagles had a total of seven TFLs.
Eastern Michigan led off the game receiving the ball, but faced early adversity as Porter was intercepted on his second pass of the game, setting UNCC up near midfield. The defense, seeing their first action, held the 49ers to a three and out, giving EMU the ball back.
After an EMU three-and-out, Charlotte looked to get something going, but was unable to do so after a sack from redshirt senior Pat O'Connor, which was his third of the season. O'Connor now has 12.5 sacks on his career. Charlotte then punted the ball back after their second consecutive three and out.
Starting with the ball at their own 13, EMU quickly got to midfield with long passes to redshirt sophomore Izaiah Fuller, A. Porter, and junior Sergio Bailey II. Following a short rush, A. Porter sprung a short pass for 24 yards after juking the defender. A horse collar tackle on the play set EMU up on the UNCC five-yard line.
On the next play, Eriksen rumbled up the middle untouched for the touchdown, his fourth on the year. T. Porter was a perfect 5-of-5 on the drive for 66 yards. After back-to-back scoreless possessions by both teams, EMU held the 7-0 lead into the second quarter.
The 49ers opened up the second frame with some consistent ball movement, getting the ball into EMU territory for the first time. They would make it down to the 12 before being halted on third down, forcing the 29-yard field goal, and making the score 7-3.
The Eagles would answer immediately with a field goal of their own. The drive began with a 12-yard run from redshirt freshman Breck Turner. Four plays later, Eriksen set EMU up in UNCC territory at the 17 with a 32-yard pass from Porter. From there, Eastern got it to the two yard-line before the 49ers had a goal line stand, making the Eagles settle for the field goal, and putting them back up 10-3.
On the ensuing UNCC drive, the defense returned the favor from earlier with an interception by Pickett in 49er territory. He rumbled to the UNCC 20 on a 21-yard return, setting Eastern up in prime territory. It was the first pick of the season for EMU, and first of Pickett's career.
With the short field, EMU found the end zone for the second time on the night five plays later. Despite a holding call that backed EMU up to the 24, an 18-yard pass to Niupalau set EMU up with first and goal from the six.
After two busted plays, Eastern converted the third down on a passing touchdown to Kilby. The 5-yard strike was the second receiving TD of the year for the tight end, and extended the Eastern lead to 17-3 with about a minute to go until the half.
The 49ers got started on their two-minute drill, advancing the ball down to EMU's 35 before the clock ticked down to three seconds. Forced with the long field goal, the 52-yard attempt was wide right, keeping the tally at 17-3 into the half.
Starting the second half on defense, the Eagles allowed a couple of fourth down conversions, setting UNCC up in EMU territory. The defense stood up once again, however, forcing the second turnover of the night. On an end around, redshirt sophomore Chris Hendricks punched the ball from the carriers' arm, and redshirt sophomore Kyle Rachwal jumped on it, setting Eastern up near midfield. It was EMU's fifth fumble recovery of the season.
EMU wasted little time capitalizing on the miscue, as two plays later, Porter found Niupalau down the sideline for a 49-yard strike, both career longs for the duo. Early in the third quarter, Eastern extended their lead to 24-3.
Following a long return on the ensuing drive for UNCC, the 49ers put more points on the board with a 25-yard field goal, tightening the lead to 24-6 at the 9:30 mark of the third frame.
On the following kickoff, redshirt sophomore Blake Banham set the Eagles up in prime position with a 47-yard return to midfield. Eastern then converted back-to-back third downs, including one on third and 13, to advance to the UNCC 24 yard line. The Eagles couldn't convert the next set of downs, setting up a 36-yard field goal for redshirt freshman Paul Fricano, which he split down the middle, putting the EMU lead back at 27-6. It was a new career-long for the first-year kicker.
The EMU defense continued to give the 49er offense fits on the next drive, forcing their third turnover of the evening. This time, the defense immediately turned it into points as Pickett, on his second INT of the night, scored from 36-yards out, giving Eastern its biggest lead of the night at 34-6. It was the first pick six since Nov. 27 of last season when Rachwal returned one for six against CMU.
Ending the third quarter on the move, the 49ers finally broke through with their first touchdown of the night on the second play of the fourth quarter, completing an 11-play, 84-yard drive that tightened things up to 34-13 early in the final quarter.
After an EMU three and out, the 49ers continued to move the ball well, scoring their second consecutive TD on an 11-play, 84-yard drive culminated by a 28-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was wide left though, putting the tally at 34-19 with just under 10 minutes to play in the game.
That's when EMU went on a clock-melting drive, chewing up 6:24 off the clock on 12 plays. After stalling on the 14 yard line, Fricano converted his third field goal on the day, giving EMU more breathing room and making the score 37-19 with just over three minutes to go.
With the large deficit, UNCC could not get anything else on the board, turning the ball over on downs with under one minute to play, and sealing the 37-19 victory for EMU.
Eastern returns home after a short week for its non-conference finale next Friday, Sept. 23 against the University of Wyoming. Kickoff from Rynearson Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.