It looked bleak for the Central Michigan Chippewas at halftime, when the Chippewas were only up by a score of 14-3 over their FCS opponent Presbyterian.
However, the Chips had a reputation last season for warming up in the second half and that idiom came true in this matchup, as CMU would win by a final score of 49-3.
Jahray Hayes was the star of the game for CMU, carrying the Chippewas on offense with three touchdowns from 12 yards, 8 yards and two yards. Hayes finished with 43 yards on 9 carries as the power back.
Devon Spalding got the scoring started in the game with a 69-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage and finished with 143 yards, while true freshman Jonathan Ward grabbed a late touchdown and 79 yards on seven carries.
Those numbers are encouraging for a Chippewa squad that finished 125th out of 128 eligible teams in rushing offense last year, especially considering the loss of Romello Ross just ten days before the start of the season.
Cooper Rush had a pedestrian outing, going 16-for-26 passing for 237 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions that occurred on back-to-back plays. The passing offense seemed to be off-kilter for most of the night, as starters Jesse Kroll (three receptions, 53 yards) and Anthony Rice (one reception, 24 yards) struggled to get going.
Corey Willis scored the lone receiving touchdown for Central on a 46-yard strike down the middle.
Amari Coleman contributed on defense for the Chippewas, scoring a 27-yard interception return touchdown while Winslow Chapman, this week’s recipient of the #21 Derrick Nash legacy jersey, also came away with an interception.
The defense did their job, limiting Presbyterian QB Ben Cheek to 10-of-22 for 82 yards and two interceptions, while the Blue Hose’s returning total offensive yards leader RB Darrell Bridges was a virtual non-factor, with 39 yards on 21 carries.
Daryl Wilson led the Blue Hose with three receptions and 29 yards.
Central Michigan now moves on to play Oklahoma State on Sept. 10 in Stillwater, the opening match for the Cowboys. Presbyterian will travel to Tennessee to play a non-conference match with Chattanooga that same day.