It wasn't the best offensive display from either side, but one team had to score more points, and Central Michigan (6-5, 4-2 MAC) came away with that much coveted W over the Kent State Golden Flashes (3-8, 2-5 MAC) in a windy affair at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio.
Cooper Rush had his seventh 300-yard passing performance of the season, contributing 337 yards through the air and one touchdown on 20/34 passes. Jesse Kroll (7 rec., 139 yards) and Corey Willis (6 rec., 131 yards) had huge days through the air, with Willis compiling career numbers. Ben McCord was also good for a touchdown in the first quarter, with a nice 11-yard reception in the endzone.
On the running side for the Chippewas, there are still clear and present struggles, as no runner gained more than 44 yards on the ground. However, CMU did manage to score their first rushing touchdown since October 17th when Jahray Hayes scored a one-yard power run touchdown in the first quarter. Hayes finished with two touchdowns and 44 yards on 16 carries. Romello Ross also saw a lot of playing time, gaining 42 yards on 10 carries for the Chippewas. No other rusher made double digits in yards.
Kent State just could not gain any sense of rhythm on offense, and their dismal rankings in first and third down conversions, as well as in yards per game really showed in this game. George Bollas was benched for ineffectiveness in the second quarter, finishing his day going 2/10 for 11 yards. This forced Colin Reardon, who lost his job to Bollas a couple of weeks ago, to finish out the game, and he gave it a good shot. Reardon's insertion under center was a boost to a listless Flashes offense, which immediately scored a passing touchdown. However, that was as close as Kent State would get, as CMU would grab another touchdown from Hayes in the third quarter and shut out the Flashes offense. Johnny Woods (4 rec., 32 yards, one touchdown) and Kris White (2 rec., 6 yards) were the only Kent State receivers that caught more than one reception.
George Bollas, as ineffective as he was passing, was the leading rusher in the game, with 54 yards on 11 attempts. Trayion Durham, the starter at running back, became just the third Golden Flash in school history to surpass 3000+ yards running in his career, and finished with 44 yards, 11 carries, and a touchdown on his Senior Day. Raekwon James (5 carries, 44 yards) and Antwan Dixon (2 carries, 20 yards) also contributed on the ground.
Both defenses had good showings from individual standpoints. For Central Michigan, Kavon Frazier had 8 tackles on the day to continue an incredible season. Josh Cox was also a great cover corner this game, with five tackles and a pass breakup. Chris Kantavelos saw some good action with Joe Ostman out and Blake Serpa limited by injury, with 5 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack on the day. Kent State showed why their defense was highly vaulted coming into the conference season, collecting 7.5 tackles for loss with 28 yards lost and three sacks with 18 yards lost, which totals out to 46 yards of lost offense for Central. Nate Holley continued a frantic pace with 15 total tackles in the game, while Nate Terhune (8 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one quarterback hit) caused heavy pressure all day against a limited Chippewa line.
The result plays favorably to Central, as they are now bowl-eligible at 6-5, with one game left to improve upon that record. With multiple spots potentially going unfilled with eligible teams and the MAC gaining a sixth primary bowl for the year, CMU could all but ensure itself a spot in a bowl game with a victory over rival Eastern Michigan on Black Friday. That game will be a noon start and will be aired on ESPN3.
Kent State, meanwhile, will look to find some sort of positive to build on as they hit the conclusion of their season. Luckily for them, it won't take much to get amped against their most hated rival in Akron. Akron has to beat either Buffalo or Kent State in order to be bowl eligible, so Kent State is in line to potentially play spoiler in the Battle for the Wagon Wheel. That game will air at noon on Black Friday (Nov. 27th) at noon on ESPN3.