Ain’t it nice to have the band back together.
The Central Michigan Chippewas (5-3, 3-1 MAC) came into Bowling Green, Ohio, with a fully healthy roster looking to finally get a road win, and did so handily, running over the hapless Bowling Green Falcons (2-5, 1-2 MAC) by a final score of 38-20.
The scoring started early, as Sullivan opened up his scoring account at the 11:53 mark of the first quarter on a 24-yard reception, diving and rolling into the endzone after reaching down for a pass. After stopping BGSU on downs, the Chippewas would drive the ball down the field for a 14 play, 59 yard drive before Tommy Lazzaro fumbled the ball on a QB read option keeper at the one-yard line on a touchdown attempt. Caleb Biggers made an alert snag to take the ball back for a 106-yard fumble return touchdown with 1:30 to go in the quarter to pull the score even at 7-7.
An exchange of three-and-outs later, CMU would strike again, this time on a seven-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Ward to put the score at 14-7 with 12:07 to go in the second quarter. The key turning point of the game would come at the 7:08 mark, when BGSU’s David Konowalski committed an offsides penalty on 3rd and 17 on a play where the Falcons prevented first down. The next play, CMU converted on 3rd and 12 to keep the drive alive. BGSU them had a panic penalty trying to keep up with CMU’s hurry-up offense, granting CMU 1st and 5 at the BGSU 23. The Chippewas would score five plays later on a one-yard run by Ward with 1:45 to go in the first half to put the score at 21-7. A promising eight-play, 46 yard drive to try and get the game within a score was stopped by Da’Quaun Jamison, who read Grant Loy’s eyes and picked it off with :24 to go inside the CMU redzone.
Both teams exchanged touchdown drives to start the third quarter. Grant Loy ran for a three-yard score to end a 10-play, 75 yard drive at the 10:30 mark to put the Falcons within seven. The Chippewa offense then raced down the field on the back of a Tony Poljan 50-yard reception which was fumbled out-of-bounds, turning that play into a nine-yard touchdown run by Ward to put the score at 28-14.
It was a pretty strange game from there, with BGSU losing the ball on downs twice and punting once on three possessions, while CMU threw an interception (Jordan Anderson, 7:05 in the third quarter) and missed a 50+ yard field goal attempt before eventually hitting paydirt at the 13:06 mark of the fourth quarter on a 51-yard Kobe Lewis touchdown run. That gave CMU a 35-14 advantage, which would turn into a 38-14 advantage after Jamison picked up his second interception of the day to set up Ryan Tice for a 25-yard field goal.
Grant Loy would put BGSU back on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass to Bryson Denley at the 7:46 mark of the fourth quarter. By then, the game was largely out of hand, as the Falcons would fail the two-point conversion, making it a three-possession gap at 38-20.
It was truly a dominant effort from the start by the Chippewas. CMU picked up 553 yards of offense on the day, and held on to the ball for a stifling 35 minutes and 25 seconds, while BGSU picked up 344 yards on the day, turning the ball over three times.
CMU also had a decided gap in clutch down conversions, going 8-of-14 on third down to keep drives alive. In comparison, BGSU went a pathetic 1-of-11 on third down and left many possessions empty, going 2-of-5 on fourth down attempts.
The Chippewa offense showed plenty of signs of life in Dormady’s second start back from a knee injury, as the transfer quarterback showed excellent communication in running the offense. He finished the night 22-of-36 (61 percent) for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Tommy Lazzaro also got looks for a second-straight game in a read-option package in clutch down situations, finishing 1-of-1 for four yards passing and picking up one rush for two yards and a fumble. He also handed off for a first down.
Jonathan Ward picked up 130 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 21 carries, while Kobe Lewis contributed 125 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries to help the CMU offense en route to a 254-yard performance on the ground. Ward (three rec., 12 yards) and Lewis (two rec., 16 yards) also helped in the passing game.
JaCorey Sullivan was the key to CMU’s success early in the game, helping to establish CMU’s pace down the field as a passing asset, picking up seven receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. He finished with eight receptions for 126 yards on the day. Other key receivers incuded Kalil Pimpleton (four rec., 52 yards) and Tony Poljan (four rec., 89 yards).
BGSU moved the ball fairly effectively against CMU for the most part, even taking into account missed opportunities.
Grant Loy finished 13-of-29 for 195 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions through the air, while also finishing as the primary running option, with 18 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown rush.
Bryson Denley (11 rush, 67 yards) and RB Marlow III (5 rush, 39 yards) took on most of the rushing load, as Davon Jones (already in for the injured Andrew Clair) had to be carted off with a leg injury early in the game.
Quintin Morris (four receptions, 68 yards) was relatively limited, as CMU’s defense keyed in on Morris as the leading receiver. As matter of fact, Loy’s targetting of Morris often resulted in pass breakups or interceptions. Denley (3 rec., 48 yards, one touchdown) and Austin Dorris (3 rec., 40 yards) were the only other primary options with more than seven yards.
For CMU defensively, Da’Quaun Jamison and Troy Brown picked up three interceptions agaisnt Grant Loy in his first true start as a quarterback. The CMU secondary was excellent in coverage throughout, with five pass breakups on the day. BGSU’s Jordan Anderson had a great leaping interception on a broken passing play to stop a CMU drive, on top of two pass breakups. BGSU finished with four pass break-ups overall.
Devonni Reed (11 total tackles) and Michael Oliver (10 total tackles) led the Chips defensively, while BGSU’s Jamari Bozeman led all tacklers with 14 stops. Two other defenders also reached double-digit stops in Brandon Perce (11) and Kholbe Coleman (10.)
CMU picked up three tackles for loss, with Jacques Bristol picking up a solo TFL and four players splitting a TFL. BGSU’s Karl Brooks picked up the Falcons’ lone tackle-for-loss. Neither team collected a sack on the day.
The BGSU defense forced three fumbles, recovering one for a defensive touchdown. CMU forced none.
The Chippewas will travel to Buffalo, New York, next week for a late afternoon game with the Buffalo Bulls (3-4, 1-2 MAC) on Saturday. Bowling Green will travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a nooner with the Broncos (4-3, 2-1 MAC as of publication.)