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Central Michigan holds on to beat Albany in Jim McElwain’s coaching debut, 38-21

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It was a streaky affair for both sides, but the Chips manage to come away with a hard-fought win at home.

Members of the CMU football team run drills under the instruction of first-year defensive line coach Justin Hinds.
James H. Jimenez

It was 108 minutes between the scheduled kickoff and when the players finally took the field in kickoff formation due to storms in the area, and the rust was decidedly evident.

Central Michigan quarterback Quinten Dormady couldn’t seem to get in rhythm with his receivers in the early going, as CMU could only muster 33 yards of offense in their first two or three drives. To complicate matters, CMU fumbled the ball on their first possession, having to hold off a chippy Albany defense for the first half of the first quarter as both teams were stout on the defensive side.

Then, with 4:43 to go in the first quarter, Dormady unleased a 22-yard bomb to Tyrone Scott down the right sideline to break the scoreless tie, and the Chippewas (1-0) never looked back, winning their tune-up game against the Albany Great Danes (0-1) by a final score of 38-21.

Dormady and Scott seemed to be the connection du jour on the day, as the pair hooked up for five receptions, 93 yards and those two touchdowns on the day, leading all Chippewa receivers.

The offense in general was fairly effective, as Dormady finished the day 27-of-37 for 285 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, though he did give up a strip fumble for a touchdown. Jonathan Ward carried the brunt of the workload on the rushing front, finishing with 22 rushes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two fumbles, which could open up a few more reps for Kobe Lewis or Lew Nichols.

The defense held tough as well outside of a few plays where some younger players got torched downfield, forcing two fumbles and recovering both (though one of those forced recoveries was called back upon further review,) while limiting Jeff Undercuffler to 15-of-28 for 199 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Karl Mofor, the Great Danes’ shifty running back, couldn’t get much going either, gaining 52 yards on 16 carries, though he did rip the CMU defense for a 36-yard reception which lead to an Albany touchdown just one play later.

Wide receiver Juwan Green proved to be a thorn in CMU’s side, as he picked up five receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns, leading all receivers in yards and tying for second in receptions (with Scott, behind CMU’s Kalil Pimpleton.)

On the day, the CMU defense finished with 244 total allowed, with Devonni Reed leading the way in tackles with five, LaQuan Johnson had two tackles-for-loss, while Da’Quaun Jamison, Troy Brown and Michael Oliver all had one apiece. The defensive was especially decisive on clutch situations, holding Albany to 5-for-15 on third-and-fourth downs.

Albany was paced by AJ Mistler on defense, who led all tacklers with 11 tackles on the game. Former EMU Eagle Nick Griffin and Eli Mencer nabbed two tackle-for-losses against Central, with the latter scoring a 52-yard return touchdown on a strip of Dormady in the third quarter. They also combined for two sacks.

The win was a reassuring sign for many Chippewa fans after a 1-11 campaign in 2018, and showed off the progress that Jim McElwain and his new coaching staff have instilled in the players this past offseason. McElwain’s group was especially aggressive on offense, going for it on fourth down at least once, and setting up to do so twice before a facemask wiped another conversion.

The Chippewas will head to Madison, Wisconsin to play the 19th-ranked Badgers next Saturday afternoon. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.