The first half of this MAC contest saw a bit of the madness that has been a prevailing theme of the week.
Toledo losing to Ohio and Akron losing to Buffalo seemed to be just a preview to the first half fun that saw multiple blocked kicks and (at one point) a 3-2 score. That scoreline predictably had the commentators salivating over the baseball like look.
On the first play from scrimmage, Nick Holley fumbled the ball, setting up a CMU drive starting within the red zone. Fortunately for the Golden Flashes, they were not only able to stop the Central Michigan offense, but they then blocked the ensuing field goal attempt.
The next crazy special teams play happened on a Kent State possession. They would take the ball on their own four yard line and predictably go three and out. Then the Chips special teams struck, blocking the punt out of the end zone to make the score 3-2 in favor of Kent State.
The remainder of the first half would take a similar tone as Kent State would have what is now their typical inept offense repeatedly stall and Central Michigan commit a slew of turnovers.
Three turnovers led to Kent State taking over twice in CMU territory and one more with relatively good field position, only to come away with ten first half points thanks to a Nick Holley short touchdown pass to Ernest Calhoun.
Junior defensive back Kevin Bourne had himself a half with a big interception and a pass breakup on a deep Cooper Rush pass.
With a 10-2 lead and time winding down in the first half, Rush and the Central Michigan offense took over. Rush showed a little razzle then a little dazzle to somehow escape an almost effective Kent State pass rush move the Chips down the field and set up a field goal attempt from the seven yard line.
Brian Eavey linned up for the field goal and was blocked mercilessly, but the play didn't count as Kent State called a timeout prior to the kick.
Then yet another mental mistake from the Golden Flashes saw them jump offside on the kick attempt, meaning CMU would receive an extra few yard and then go for the touchdown. Rush completed a short pass and ran in the 2-point conversion to tie up the ballgame at the half.
Central Michigan came out looking to build on the momentum of late in the first half and did just that with a quick opening drive touchdown, converting several long 3rd downs.
On the following Kent State possession, Nick Holley would throw a pick six to Tony Annese of CMU to push the Chips lead to 24-10.
The Golden Flashes offense somehow put together several chunk plays in a Nick Holley pass to Mike Carrigan for 29 yards and a Justin Rankin run of 40 yards. This set up a one yard touchdown by Justin Rankin to begin the comeback and put the score at 24-17.
Another CMU three and out gave Nick Holley another shot to engineer a drive and he did just that on a big run of 68 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 24.
Late game situations lend themselves to big time quarterbacks, meaning CMU fans had to feel good as Rush took the field with just over six minutes remaining. However a dropped pass, sack and holding penalty meant that the Chips were going to be forced into punting.
Nick Holley further cemented his lore when he drove the Golden Flashes down in an epic 10 play, 68 yard drive to set up a Shane Hynes field goal attempt. Keep in mind that Hynes already had a kick blocked and hails from an hour or so away from the Central Michigan campus.
With only four seconds on the clock and after freezing attempt, Hynes nailed a 43 yard field goal to end the game at 27-24 in favor of the Kent State Golden Flashes.
On the day, CMU turned the ball over four times, including three Rush interceptions, two on tipped passes. The sloppy play by the Chips lent an opportunity to a tough luck Kent State team that finally overcame a difficult season to win.
Kent State still face an uphill battle for bowl elegibility at 3-6, while Central Michigan’s record falls to 5-4.