Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos said last week that if the Chippewas could somehow reverse their tendency to be minus in turnovers, his team had a chance to defeat the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday. However, the idea that CMU could win the turnover battle, let alone defeat the surging Bobcats on their home turf seemed unlikely. But that's exactly what happened Saturday, as CMU upset Ohio 26-23 during the 'Cats Homecoming.
During the the contest, an improbable reversal of fortunes for both teams occurred which resulted in a victory for the 16.5 point underdog Chippewas. Normally cool headed and sure handed senior Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw two interceptions including a pick in the end zone at the end of the first half that cost the Bobcats a chance to tie the game. Going into halftime, it was CMU with a 10-3 lead, a 2-1 lead in turnovers and the momentum.
In the second half, Tettleton showed why he is one of the premier quarterbacks in the MAC by leading his team on three touchdown drives, the most impressive of which took just one play when he hooked up with speedster Chase Cochran for a 69 yard strike. But while Tettleton was shredding CMU for 21 second half points, the Bobcats were unable to shake the determined efforts of the Chippewas.
The MVP of this contest was the CMU offensive line which gave freshman quarterback Cooper Rush just enough time to complete three touchdown passes of his own and pave the way for sophomore running back Saylor Lavallii to set yet another career high by rushing for 184 yards on 26 carries. The importance of Lavallii's efforts to his team can be demonstrated by the huge advantage CMU had over Ohio in time of possession, 35:46 to 24:08. Simply put, Lavallii's rushing yards kept the Bobcats and Tettleton off the field where they could do no further damage.
Late in the game, after a convincing twelve play 78 yard touchdown drive, Ohio took the lead 23-19.The Central Michigan offense sputtered and was forced to punt with only 2:47 left. Then, sure handed Ohio returner Travis Carrie fumbled what looked like an easy fair catch. CMU redshirt freshman Joe Bacci recovered the ball for the Chippewas on the Bobcats' 39 yard line. Rush then engineered a nail biting touchdown drive culminated by a five yard completion to junior receiver Courtney Williams giving to Chippewas the lead 26-23 after the PAT.
The Bobcats were given one last chance after Williams was flagged for excessive celebration and a fifteen yard penalty was imposed on the kickoff. Unfortunately for Tettleton, he was knocked out of the game by CMU freshman defensive end Joe Ostman thereby ending any chance of a miracle finish from Ohio.