Eight turnovers plagued John Bonamego and Central Michigan in Boise, as the team fell to Wyoming in a 37-14 blowout in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Central Michigan has now lost four-straight bowl games, a tough break for this senior class which suffered close losses to Western Kentucky and Minnesota, and got blown out by Tulsa and now Wyoming in that span.
Wyoming QB Josh Allen led the charge in his first game back from an AC joint injury, scoring 21 first quarter points and burying the Chippewas' in a tough deficit early. Allen finished with 154 yards passing for three touchdowns and no interceptions on 11-of-19 passing.
Allen, with dozens of NFL scouts monitoring his every move, completed six of his first seven throws with three of those passes good for touchdowns in the first quarter alone.
After the early fireworks, Wyoming's offense slowed down a bit, electing to run the clock by favoring the run game. The Cowboys achieved 121 yards on the ground, compared to Central Michigan's output of 18. Wyoming held a 27-7 halftime lead which felt rather insurmountable after four first-half turnovers by the Chippewas.
Central Michigan registered one second half touchdown on a long offensive drive where Morris connected with his favorite targets: Tyler Conklin, Corey Willis, and Jonathan Ward. It was ultimately two Jonathan Ward touchdowns (one on a three-yard run and another on a 74-yard wheel route reception) which put CMU on the scoreboard.
Shane Morris struggled on the day, completing 23-of-39 passes for 329 yards, one otuchdown and four interceptions, while the running attack of Jonathan Ward, Tony Poljan, Kumehnnu Gwilly and Romello Ross combined for 52 yards on the day.
With the exception of a 74-yard touchdown pass from Shane Morris to Jonathan Ward in the opening period and a 43-yard bomb to Mark Chapman late in the second half, CMU's offense had trouble gaining momentum before the wheels fell off, even despite a respectable 346 yards.
Instead, it was eight turnovers (which included four interceptions), five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and a 58-yard scoop-and-score defensive touchdown forced by a ferocious Wyoming defense which allowed the Cowboys to skate to an easy win on the icy, blue turf.
It was a successful regular season for Bonamego's team, a squad that didn't look promising after a triple overtime win over Rhode Island after week one. But Morris rapidly developed over the course of the season, leading his team to wins over Ohio, Northern Illinois, and an incredible comeback over Western Michigan. CMU owns the Michigan MAC trophy and the team finished second in the West. So despite the bitter end to the year, the Chippewas finish with their highest win total since 2009.
The MAC is now 1-2 in the 2017 bowl season, hoping it improve greatly upon its 0-6 record from a year ago.