If you came for good, clean fun and a rousing game of football, this probably wasn’t your jam. If you came to watch a wild grudgematch with questionable decision-making, a litany miscues and lots of pent-up animosity, it was right up your alley.
It was the Western Michigan Broncos (3-2, 1-0 MAC) who ultimately came on top at the end of the proceedings over the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-3, 1-1 MAC) by a final score of 31-15, though it wasn’t quite the blowout romp the scoreboard would indicate.
Both teams combined for 30 penalties (15 apiece) for 262 yards, with at least seven penalties for offsides, appriximately seven unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, approximately four holding calls and an ejection for targeting, which made for some unpredictable football.
CMU possessed the ball first, but coughed it up on an interception after a nice drive down the field on a Patrick Lupro diving effort, in what would turn out to be an indicator of how strange the rest of the game would turn out.
LeVante Bellamy made the Chips pay four plays later, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run to put the score up to 7-0. It was the first seven points of a 24-point unanswered run for the Broncos which extended until the early stages of the fourth quarter.
This didn’t mean Central didn’t have their opportunities.
The Chippewas came into Bronco territory four times and came away with no points in the first half and third quarter, inclduing two failed fourth-and-short conversions, a punt from the WMU 45, and a fumble on third down.
CMU would finally score with 12:27 left to go in the game on a two-yard touchdown run for Kobe Lewis at the end of a nine play, 99 yard drive which took up 2:12 of clock, a drive helped in part by an amazing 60 yards of penalties committed by WMU on four (four!) unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including two on the punt return which pinned CMU at the one-yard line to place the ball instead at the 30. After a failed two-point conversion, that put the score at 24-6.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Chippewas got the ball back in favorale field position, starting at their own 45, and drove all the way to the WMU six-yard line. A touchdown to JaCorey Sullivan was called back due to illegal motion in the backfield, the ensuing pass to Tyrone Scott didn’t connect, and CMU elected for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 11 to put the score at 24-9.
Western would nail the door to the coffin on the next drive, gaining 76 yards on four drives in 1:40 to put the game out of reach thanks to an 11-yard touchdown run by Sean Taylor.
CMU responded in kind with a 34-yard touchdown strike of their own, failing a two-point conversion after having too many men on the field in their first attempt, to put the score at 31-15.
For the WMU offense, Jon Wassink was 18-of-29 for 244 yards, one touchdown and one interception through the air, suffering no sacks on the day. Wassink also picked up 65 yards and a touchdown on six carries. LeVante Bellamy exploded for 105 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to lead WMU on the ground, while Sean Taylor picked up an 11-yard touhdown. Keith Mixon Jr. led Bronco receivers in receptions (six) and picked up 62 yards, while Skyy Moore led Bronco receivers in receiving yards (67) on four receptions and Gio Ricci picked up the lone Broncos receiving touchdown of the day to compliment his three catch, 65-yard performance.
On defense for WMU, Treshawn Heyward led all tacklers with 11 total tackles, to go along with a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. AJ Thomas (10 tackles,) Patrick Lupro and Drake Spears (eight tackles) also were tops for the Broncos on that list. Lupro and Justin Tranquill picked up the two interceptions on the day, with Keith Guillory, Andre Carter and Tranquill picking up sacks. As a unit, the Broncos picked up six tackles of the day.
CMU’s offense, despite the lack of points, performed admirably. David Moore finished 33-of-48 for 330 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on the day. Jonathan Ward made a surprise start after suffering a shoulder injury against Wisconsin and looked pretty good in his return, finishing the day with 107 yards to lead all rushers on 19 carries with 0 yards lost on the day. Kobe Lewis, who was brought in as a change-of-pace back, had six carries for four yards and the lone CMU rushing touchdown, with three lost yards on a fourth-and-three conversion attempt and a third-down fumble.
Three Chippewa receivers tied for the lead in receptions (six) between Tyrone Scott (81 yards to lead all CMU receivers), Kalil Pimpleton (51 yards) and Tony Poljan (50 yards.) JaCorey Sullivan caught CMU’s lone touchdown through the air on a 34-yard strike, finishing with five receptions and 73 yards. Kobe Lewis also picked up five catches for 37 yards.
Michael Oliver paced the Chippewas on defense with 10 total tackles to go along with two tackles-for-loss. Da’Quaun Jamison (six tackles, pass break-up) and Troy Brown (five tackles, tackle-for-loss) wew also towards the top of the defensive charts. The Chips as a unit picked up six tackles-for-loss and three pass break-ups, with Gage Kreski picking up the lone interception on a scooping pick-up in the CMU redzone.
The Broncos now get set to face the Toledo Rockets (3-1, 0-0 MAC) on the road on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m., while CMU will defend home turf against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-1, 0-0 MAC), on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m.