The Central Michigan Chippewas entered today's game with the Michigan Wolverines hoping to, at the very least, play a competitive game and have success on which to build going forward. Unfortunately, the offense could never get going, Zurlon Tipton was lost to an early injury, and the game quickly devolved into a rout.
The first play from scrimmage gave CMU perhaps their best hope, as Cody Kater completed a 17-yard pass to Courtney Williams to the Chippewa 42. Unfortunately, three plays later, they were forced to punt. Richie Hogan tried to get the ball away, but Michigan's Dymonte Thomas blocked it, and Joe Reynolds returned it for 30 yards. Michigan led 7-0 just 3:00 into the game.
Michigan forced three-and-out from CMU on the next possession, but then things briefly went the Chippewas' way. Hogan's punt went deep and Dennis Norfleet made a poor decision to pick the ball up. He nearly fumbled but, as it was, Michigan was pinned back to their own 7-yard line. On UM's second offensive play of the game, Jarret Chapman intercepted Devin Gardner, and CMU took possession at the Michigan 6. Unfortunately for Central Michigan, they were unable to turn the pick into a touchdown. After four plays, the Chippewas had to settle for a 23-yard Ron Coluzzi field goal and a 7-3 deficit.
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The Wolverines took over the game from that point. Six plays after CMU kicked off following the field goal, Devin Gardner ran 22 yards for a touchdown to cap a 77-yard drive and give UM a 14-3 lead. After the Michigan defense forced another three-and-out, Gardner led a 10-play, 73-yard drive that took 5:50 off the clock. Fitzgerald Toussaint ended the possession with a one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, and the Wolverines led 21-3.
Central Michigan tried to get back in that game at that point and, after eight plays, had traveled from their own 17 to Michigan's 28-yard line. However, the Wolverine defense stiffened and forced a Hogan punt on 4th-and-15. On the next Michigan play, Jason Wilson provided CMU with their second interception of Gardner on the day and a first down at UM's 29. Eventually, Alex Niznak led the Chippewas to a 4th-and-4 at the Michigan 10, but CMU head coach Dan Enos called for a field goal, which Coluzzi made from 27 yards. At 21-6, CMU wouldn't score another point until the fourth quarter.
With just over 2:00 left in the first half, Gardner threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Gallon to finish off a six-minute drive that went 76 yards in 11 plays. In an attempt to score before the half, Niznak threw two completions to Titus Davis (his only receptions of the game), but immediately after, he threw an interception to Raymon Taylor, who returned it 54 yards to the CMU 12 yard line. Three plays later, Gardner ran for a four-yard Michigan touchdown, and the Wolverines went into halftime up 35-6.
The disaster continued in the third quarter. While Central Michigan was running just seven offensive plays for a total loss of eight yards, Michigan scored on each of its three possessions. The first was a six-play, 75-yard drive that lasted three minutes. Then, UM had a 10-play (all runs), 55-yard drive that took 5:49 off the clock. The final one went eight plays and 81 yards over 3:05. In total, that's 196 yards in 24 plays. Toussaint, Derrick Green and Thomas Rawls all scored rushing touchdowns, and the Wolverines led 56-6 after three quarters.
CMU started the fourth quarter by driving 59 yards for Coluzzi's third field goal of the day, which was good from 33 yards. On the next drive, Kavon Frazier earned the Chippewas' third interception of the game, this one off of Michigan backup Shane Morris. Unfortunately, on the next play, Andrew Flory fumbled after a reception, and UM then drove for their final points, a 30-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons, and a 59-9 final.
Central Michigan had just 210 yards of total offense and 12 first downs, compared to Michigan's 463 yards and 22 first downs. In particular, CMU was out-rushed by a count of 242-66.
Niznak was 11/22 for 131 yards and an interception, while Kater saw only early action and was just 2/6 for 13 yards. Saylor Lavallii rushed ten times for 52 yards, while Tipton earned just ten yards on four carries before his leg injury. Flory led all Chippewa receivers with 79 yards on four receptions. Davis' two catches went for 28 yards. After his first punt was blocked, Hogan had a very good game. He averaged 46.2 yards on six punts, with three going inside the Michigan 20.
For Michigan, Gardner was 10/15 for 162 yards to go along with his touchdown and two interceptions. As backup, Morris went 4/6 for 59 yards and an interception of his own. Three UM players rushed for over 50 yards, led by Green, who tallied 58 yards on 11 carries. Toussaint added 57 yards, while Gardner produced 52 from the quarterback position. The team's combined 14 completions went to eight different receivers. Gallon had four catches for 47 yards, while Devin Funchess also had 47 yards on two receptions. Joe Reynolds had one catch, but it went for 45 yards; Drew Dileo's day included 43 yards on two catches.
Central Michigan will try to get off the mat and earn their first win of the season next weekend against FCS power New Hampshire. The game in Mount Pleasant, Mich. will be the first of the season for UNH, who went 8-4 in 2012.