It was closer than fans probably would have liked in the fiest half, but the Central Michigan Chippewas (4-3, 2-1 MAC) put the clamps on New Mexico State (0-7, independent) in the second half to earn a 42-28 win at home in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
The Chippewas gave the fans a happy Homecoming after a week of speculation around starting quarterback David Moore was suspended for a banned substance, racking up 486 total yards of offense and picking up two turnovers on the day.
All eyes were on Quinten Dormady, as he returned to the gridrion for his first start since the opener against FCS Albany in Week 1. He had a shaky start in the first quarter, completing 2-of-8 passes for 47 yards, but recovered nicely to finish the day 14-of-24 for 134 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, fumbling once.
CMU got the scoring started with a 44-yard strike from Dormady to Kalil Pimpleton into double coverage to take the lead at the 8:51 mark in the first quarter. After a quick Aggie three-and-out, CMU extended their lead to 14-0 courtesy of a 57-yard touchdown run for Kobe Lewis on a two-play, 15 second drive. The Aggies would finally get on the board with an impressive pass from Josh Atkins to Naveon Mitchell on an endzone fade route to end an impressive nine-play, 54 yard drive, putting the score at 14-7 with 2:37 to go in the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Chippewas and Aggies exchange quality punches. Kobe Lewis picked up his second touchdown of the day on a 20-yard scamper, where he broke two tackles to get to the endzone at the 7:23 mark of the second quarter to put the score at 21-7. NMSU had their best drive of the game on the ensuing possession, moving the ball on a 12-play, 89 yard drive, scoring on an 11-yard pass from Atkins to OJ Clark, to put the score at 21-14 at the 4:17 mark. CMU responded as they’ve tended to at home, with a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive to push the score up to 28-14 on the next possession. Jason Huntley, the dynamic Aggie running back, broke loose on the next possession for a 37-yard rushing touchdown to put the score at 28-21 to end the half.
It was all CMU from there, as Ryan Tice converted two field goals (from 35 yards and 43 yards) and Dormady tossed a seven-yard pass to Tony Poljan for a touchdown, with a Kalil Pimpleton two-point conversion to effectively seal the deal. NMSU would score late on a 37-yard passing touchdown from Atkins to Jared Wyatt, but the damage was largely done by that point.
For CMU, Kobe Lewis paced all runners, with 23 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Jonathan Ward picked up 15 carries for 131 rushing yards and a touchdown, to go along with four receptions for 36 yards.
Kalil Pimpleton led the CMU receivers, with six receptions for 59 yards, with JaCorey Sullivan (two catches for 20 yards), Tony Poljan (seve-yard TD catch) and Keonta Nixon (12-yard catch) also registering stats.
Defensively, Da’Quaun Jamison (seven total tackles), Michael Oliver and Troy Brown (six total tackles) led the way for CMU. Sean Adesanya, Tico Brown and Robi Stuart all picked up sacks and tackles-for-loss, while Troy Brown pulled down the lone interception of the day.
The Aggies put up a valiant effort on the day, especially on offense. Josh Atkins finished 24-of-40 for 263 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, finishing with a positive TD-to-INT ratio after coming in with a 6:11 ratio prior to today’s action.
Jason Huntley ran fairly effectively, with 67 yards on 10 carries, including a 37-yard touchdown run. Christian Gibson also put out a decent effort, with 40 yards on nine carries and no yards lost.
Tony Nicholson led the Aggies (and all receivers) with seven receptions for 86 yards, while OJ Clark (two rec., 16 yards), Naveon Mitchell (five rec., 52 yards) and Jared Wyatt (four rec., 42 yards) all caught touchdowns on the day.
On defense, Javon Ferguson led the way with 13 total tackles (leading all defenders), while Chance Cook (12) and Jason SImmons (10) were also in the double-digits in total tackles. Simmons was especially a master at tackles-for-loss, collecting three, while Ferguson, Rashan Hodge Jr. and Cedric Wilcotts II also had a TFL.
The Chippewas next play Bowling Green at Doyt Perry Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19th, looking to add more wins in an impressive comeback season. The Aggies will have a BYE week before facing Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia on Sat., Oct. 26.