YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Jaylon Jackson and Hamze El-Zayat both returned kickoffs for touchdowns in the first half and Eastern Michigan held on for a 33-23 victory over FCS-member Howard in a season opener on Friday night.
Jackson's kickoff return covered 84 yards following a safety and capped a 16-0 first quarter for the Eagles. El-Zayat gave Eastern Michigan a 30-6 lead on a 96-yard return with 9:32 left in the second quarter.
Kasey Hawthorne had a 2-yard touchdown run and then caught a 23-yard scoring strike from Quinton Williams on back-to-back drives to pull the Bison within 30-23 by the end of the third quarter.
The Eagles took a two-score lead on Kenyon Bowyer's 25-yard field goal with 4:04 left to play. Austin Smith ran three times for 28 yards and completed 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards on the 13-play drive that took 7:29 off the clock.
Smith completed 19 of 28 passes for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception for Eastern Michigan. Samson Evans had a short TD run. Tanner Knue caught eight passes for 73 yards and a score.
Williams totaled 194 yards on 16-of-33 passing with two touchdowns for Howard. Eden James carried nine times for 96 yards. Jamarr Ebron had the other touchdown catch.
The Bison outgained the Eagles 398-285 but couldn't overcome the two special-team scores.
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