The future looked just fine for the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-1), as several players stepped up to fill the voids left by several injured starters in a 45-24 victory over the Akron Zips (0-3).
David Moore finished his day 20-of-31 for 316 yards and two touchdowns in his first start as a Chippewa in place of the injured Quinten Dormady (knee) to lead CMU. Kobe Lewis, the starter who replaced Jonathan Ward (shoulder), paced the rushers, carrying 25 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns. True freshman Lew Nichols also got some run, with 45 yards on seven carries.
Kalil Pimpleton led the way for the Chippewa receivers (seven receptions, 116 yards and a touchdown) and even had a 28-yard pass to boot. Tyrone Scott re-emerged as an option on the outside with four receptions for 82 yards, and Tony Poljan showed big-play potential on several highlight reel catches, collecting five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown on the day,
The CMU offense as a whole finished with 533 yards of offense on 66 plays ran, with 344 passing yards and 189 rushing yards to get their five touchdowns.
The CMU defense was all over the backfield of Akron, picking up 10 tackles-for-loss and six sacks on the day, with Troy Hairston (half-sack), Jacques Brisol (half-sack), Max Saylor, Robi Stuart, LaQuan Johnson (twice) and Sean Adesanya (twice) all joining the party. Adesanya also added a 49-yard interception return which nearly went for a touchdown to his day, which also included X tackles. Troy Brown led the Chippewas and all defenders with 12 tackles on the day.
Akron struggled for most of the game to get much of anything going on offense, although they did lead a nice hurry-up drive at the tail end of the first half to bring the score to 27-10. Kato Nelson finished 26-of-42 for 241 yards, three touchdowns and one interception through the air, and gained 62 yards gained on 16 carries to lead the Zips. Nelson’s day wasn’t the greatest, in retrospect, as he only managed one passing yard in the first quarter before making up for lost time in the second and fourth quarters, especially.
Rushing was again a struggle for the Zips, as Nelson again led all rushers in yards and carries. Deltron Sands (three carries for 11 yards) and Brandon Lee (four carries for eight yards) were non-factors, as the Chips forced the Zips to pass for chunk yardage.
On the receiving end, tight ends Maverick Wolfley and Brandon Junk came down with receiving touchdowns on their only receptions of the day, while Nate Stewart came down with another in garbage time. Stewart (5 rec., 78 yards) and Williams (5 rec., 58 yards) led the way for Zip receivers, with Dustin Burkhart, MAC East Offensive Player of the Week for Week 2, limited to just three receptions for 62 yards.
As a unit, the Zips finished with 329 yards of offense on 76 plays.
If there was a positive to take away for the Akron defense, they certainly tried their best to make plays, totalling four pass breakups on the day, with Alvin Davis, Randy Cochran Jr., Josh Ward and Jordyn Riley getting those touches. John Lako led the Zips in total tackles (11) and had a fumble recovery, with fellow battery mate Bubba Arslenian right behind him with 10 tackles.
Akron’s downfall proved to be in clutch situations on offense, as Akron was 0-of-8 through three quarters on third-down coversions, and 3-of-13 overall.
Both teams started off rather shaky, but CMU eventually broke the dead heat with a 24-yard field goal with 6:12 left in the first quarter. Kobe Lewis would find paydirt on a four-yard touchdown run a couple drives later to extend the lead to 10-0 with 14:15 to go in the second quarter.
The second quarter was a wild one in terms of scoring. Kato Nelson threw an untimely interception on the next drive, as Adesanya took it back 49 yards, nearly to the house. Tony Poljan would capitalize three plays later on a toucdown pass from Moore to put the score at 17-0. Akron would score on the next drive on a 40-yard Jerry Fitschen field goal to get on the board with 7:48 to go before halftime. CMU scored on the next possession thanks to a 35-yard Kalil Pimpleton touchdown to extend the lead to 27-3, while Akron would squeeze in a five-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Wolfley to put the halftime score at 27-10.
The third quarter was largely quiet, as the only score for either team was a 35-yard Ryan Tice field goal.
The fourth quarter presented a little more action, as Nelson threw to Brandon Junk for a three-yard strike to cut the deficit to 30-17 with 11:15 remaining. CMU responded with an 11-yard Kobe Lewis rush to put the score at 38-17 after a two-point conversion from Moore to Pimpleton. Akron took the ball down the field and eventually came up with a Andre Williams TD drive to put the score at 38-24. The Zips went for an onside kick and recovered it, but were unable to do much. Kobe Lewis would go on to nail any hope of a comeback shut, with a two-yard score after tearing through the Akron defense for a 45-yard scamper on the previous play to put the final score at 45-24.
The Chippewas will go down to Miami, Florida, to face the reeling Miami Hurricanes, who are 0-2 as of publication, next Saturday afternoon.
Akron will go back home to face the Troy Trojans on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans are 1-0 as of publication.