Kalil Pimpleton had been waiting to break one all day.
He already had an impressive 16-yard jet sweep to help CMU put together a previous drive, but had largely been neutralized by the EMU defense in the first quarter, with two receptions for 17 yards as well.
Finally, at the 12:38 mark of the second quarter, Pimpleton got his opportunity. He lined up on the near side of the field and ran up the seam, collecting a David Moore pass in-stride and sprinting for a 80-yard touchdown, the longest for CMU since Cooper Rush connected with Corey Willis in 2016 vs. Virginia. That score put CMU up 14-3 at a critical juncture; Alonzo McCoy picked up an intereption in the endzone on the last possession as EMU threatened to come within one score to set the touchdown pass up.
Pimpleton’s touchdown ultimately proved to be a difference, while Jonathan Ward’s 65-yard reception touchdown on the next possession sealed the result, as CMU (3-2, 2-1 MAC) pulled out a much-needed victory over EMU (3-2, 0-1 MAC) by a final score of 42-16.
The scoring opened with a three-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Ward to start the first drive, plaing CMU up 7-0 after a seven play, 75-yard drive. EMU answered back a few possessions later, with a Chad Ryland field goal to put the score to 7-3 with 3:43 to go in the first quarter.
The second quarter is where things got really interesting.
EMU drove down the field to get to the CMU redzone, and looked poised to score. Instead, Mike Glass III threw a pass to the far side of the endzone into coverage, with McCoy jumping on it to give CMU possession and to stop the scoring threat.
A couple plays later, CMU scored on Pimpleton’s 80-yard seam route to instead put the score at 14-3. EMU couldn’t make much of the next possession, and CMU made them pay on the next possession, as they gave up another big play, this time to Jonathan Ward on a 64-yard pass with 10:31 to go in the first half to put the score at 21-3.
The score stayed that way until the 7:50 mark of the third quarter, when Kobe Lewis screamed down the sideline on a stretch play for a 28-yard run to cap off an 11-play, 64 yard drive and put the score at 28-3 CMU. EMU would respond with a Mike Glass rushing touchdown from one yard out on the next possession to put the score at 28-10. A few possessions later, Ward took another big play to the house, this time on an 86-yard run up the middle to put the score at 35-10 entering the fourth quarter.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the closing frame, with EMU’s Mathew Sexton (13:36 mark) and Tommy Lazzaro (2:55) picking up six-yard scores to put the game at its eventual final.
It was a banner day for the CMU offense, as they posted up 587 total yards on the Eagles defense, including an impressive 308 yards rushing on the ground.
Jonathan Ward was the star of the show, complimenting his 65-yard receiving touchdown with 132 rushing yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, with a long of 86 yards, tying the late Zurlon Tipton (2013 vs. Eastern Michigan) for longest run in a game.
Kalil Pimpleton exploded in a big way for CMU as well, finishing the game with five reeptions for 112 yards and a touchdown, to go along with his 19-yard jet sweep run.
David Moore finished the day 15-of-24 for 279 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He did not throw at all in the fourth quarter, getting pulled for Tommy Lazzaro on the final drive of the game.
All the CMU backs had a good bit to eat, as Kobe Lewis picked up 81 yards on 12 carries and Kumehnnu Gwilly (10 carries for 49 yards) helped to run the clock late in the game after CMU built up its big lead.
The Chippewa defense ate up an EMU offensive line which only gave up four sacks all season, getting to the quarterback five times in this contest, with Sean Adesanya, Troy Brown, Jacquez Bristol, Keegan Cousseau and Joshuwa Eldridge all collecting numbers.
Devonni Reed led the Chips in total tackles (10), with Michael Oliver and Troy Brown (6) behind Reed in tackles. Brown led the way in tackles-for-loss (3), with seven different Chippewas picking up a tackle-for-loss. The Chips also picked up four QB hits as a unit.
Kyron McKinnie-Harper, Montrae Braswell and Darius Bracy all picked up pass break-ups, with fellow defensive back Alonzo McCoy picking up a crucial interception.
For EMU, there wasn’t much to point to on the offensive side.
Mike Glass III finished 19-of-33 for 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the day, getting sacked three times by the Chips.
If there is a positive to be taken away, EMU seemed to have a bit of success in running the ball with Willi Parker, who had eight carries for 42 yards. EMU as a unit finished with 77 net yards, but had as many as 126 net yards.
Mathew Sexton led all EMU receivers with four receptions for 42 yards and a six-yard touchdown, EMU’s only receiving touchdown of the day. Dylan Drummond (three receptions, 32 yards) and Arthur Jackson III (three receptions, 30 yards) were towards the top of the baord as well, with as many as 11 EMU players recording at least one catch.
Vince Calhoun and Kobie Beltram led all EMU receivers in total tackles (9), with Terry Myrick (5), Brody Hoying, Mickey Haney and Hunter Andrews (all 4), also amongst the top of the defensive boards. EMU picked up two tackles-for-loss courtesy of Calhoun and Sam Jackson, but couldn’t collect any sacks.
Noski LaFleur had EMU’s lone interception, while Vince Calhoun picked up a forced fumble and a recovery late in the fourth quarter.
Central will face its last out-of-conference opponent in FBS independent New Mexico State (0-5) at home on Saturday, while Eastern hosts Ball State (2-3, 1-0 MAC) at home on Saturday afternoon.