Football is a violent sport, no one will deny that. The famous Miami Herald columnist and current ESPN Radio host Dan LeBatard calls football “a series of violent real estate acquisitions.”
He proved to be right on this night.
The physicality was clearly evident in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, as Central Michigan drove deep into Hurricane territory in what would become a 21 play, 50 yard drive which took over eight minutes off the clock to score a one-yard rushing touchdown to put the game at... Miami (FL) 17, Central Michigan 11, pending the extra point try.
The fact they were in a position to potentially win was already insane; CMU, a 33-point underdog coming into the game, had managed to hold Miami to a 7-2 halftime score, and had managed to hold Miami to just 10 second-half points. Now, the offense had its chance to shine.
Central Michigan quarterback David Moore had been hit all game; before the night was thorugh, he’d be taken out on the final drive for a play to get looked at by the medical staff. In all, Moore suffered four sacks and six quarterback hits on the day, and looked every part of it, limping up and down the field to lead CMU’s offensive efforts.
It was ultimately fitting Moore was in for the final play, as he threw an admirable pass towards Kalil Pimpleton which was ultimately intercepted by Miami’s AL Blades Jr., the only major mistake he made through the entire night. It was a true warrior’s finish, a battle til the end.
The Chips (2-2) would end up running out of steam in their comeback efforts against the Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-2), but with the odds against them, even pulling within a score is a moral victory they’ll likely take into their rivalry game next week with the hated Western Michigan Broncos.
David Moore finished the day 23-of-50 for 217 yards and a rushing touchdown, along with the interception on the last play of the game, facing constant pressure from a rough-and-tumble Miami defense. Moore threw the ball into a lot of tight windows and really gave his best effort into delivering the ball; so much so, there were several drops by receivers who maybe weren’t quite ready for them.
JaCorey Sullivan (3 rec., 39 yards) and Tyrone Scott (3 rec., 69 yards) came up clutch in key third-and-fourth down situations throughout the day, while Kalil Pimpleton was the main recevier on the day, hauling in 11 receptions for 73 yards. Kobe Lewis was relatively quiet on the day with 45 yards on the day, but showed a lot of push in the first quarter, picking up 25 yards in the first quarter before the defense keyed in on him.
Ryan Tice contributed as well, kicking a 55-yard bomb to put the score at 14-5 to set a new program record.
The CMU offense won just abotu every category you’d expect to win in an upset effort, converting more “clutch” situations (8-of-20, including 2-of-2 on fourth down) and possessed the ball longer than Miami, holding on for 32 minutes and 46 seconds, while committing less penalties (nine penalties, for 46 yards) and picking up more first downs (21 to 16.)
CMU was able to keep the game close thanks largely in part to a stout defensive effort. The Chippewas kept Miami to 2-of-12 in “clutch” conversion situations (third-and-fourth down), limiting a normally explosive offense to just 301 yards on the day on the road. The defense keying in on the run also worked out for the best, as CMU gave up 51 net yards, with Deejay Dallas held to 34 yards on 14 carries for one touchdown.
The Chips exerted constant pressure on redshirt freshman QB Jarron Williams, picking up 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three quarterback hits. Williams was also sacked in the back of the endzone twice for a safety (though one was called an incomplete pass) early in the second quarter and CMU forced a fumble turnover on another sack later in the game, with Jacques Bristol responsible for both of those plays.
Bristol was a standout on defense, picking up three total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Troy Brown again led the Chips in total tackles (7), while Sean Adesanya (two tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble) paced the defensive line. In the secondary, Brandon Brown and Andrew Ward had key pass breakups, while Kyron McKinnie-Harper saved a touchdown early with a flying PBU.
What was ultimately the deciding factory for how close the game turned out to be was turnovers and penalties.
Miami kept Central in the game due to a string of bad defensive penalties at multiple points in the game, most notably on the penultimate offensive drive, as the Hurricanes committed four penalties on the drive (three within the five-yard line) to give up the touchdown. Miami also committed critical drive-killing penalties on offense, totalling 13 penalties for 92 yards.
It was ultimately CMU failing to capitalize on oppotunities early in the game which resulted in Miami sweating out a win. CMU ended up within Miami territory at least three times prior to their touchdown drive and came away with zero points due to two sack fumble turnovers and a missed 50+ yard field goal attempt.
All told, it was a game CMU can review the film on and take away lessons from as they get set to take on the majority of their conference schedule. Next Saturday, they face Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium.