Central Michigan (3-3, 1-1) rode running back Lew Nichols III and some explosive passing plays for close win, beating the Ohio Bobcats (1-5, 1-1 MAC) by a final score of 30-27 on Saturday afternoon— a score which was exactly identical to last year’s result at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Ohio QB Armani Rogers got his first career Bobcat start and played the entire way, managing the offense well at times en route to 27 points, about 10 points above Ohio’s season average.
Both squads struggled early, where Ohio’s first drive ended after four plays with a fumble by De’Montre Tuggle recovered by the Chips.
CMU took over at the Ohio 46, but was unable to cash in as QB Daniel Richardson was intercepted by Tariq Drake on a deep throw that was off the mark, Drake’s first of two interceptions on the day.
Ohio’s interception of Richardson was just one battle in what turned out to be a war between Ohio’s secondary and CMU’s wideouts for control of the deep sideline, with each team winning its share of the battles.
The Bobcats next drive ended in a missed field goal which, just like last year, turned out to be a critical play as the ‘Cats lost by three again.
Both offenses started rolling for most of the remainder of the first half with the first touchdown keyed by Lew Nichols III’s 47-yard run. Nichols III finished with 186 yards and a rushing score on the day.
In three of the last four drives of the first half, Ohio’s Armani Rogers moved the Bobcats into scoring position, ultimately scoring ten points. Rogers, known as an impact runner, showed that he can throw too, completing 13 of 18 attempts for 190 yards for the game.
The teams went into half with a CMU 13-10 lead and plenty of offensive momentum, which continued for most of the second half, where both teams scored 17 points.
With two second-half scores, Central Michigan’s Kalil Pimpleton showed why there is talk that he is on track for a shot at the NFL.
The first was a seven-yard TD run on a sweep where Pimpleton showed speed to get to the edge and toughness and determination to get in the endzone.
On the next drive, Pimpleton beat man coverage for a 28-yard TD pass from Richardson.
The Bobcats were able to keep pace for most of the second half with some big plays, like a 40-yard run by true freshman Sieh Bangura on his first career rushing attempt.
Ultimately, the game came down to the last three minutes where Ohio had a final possession to tie the game but the Chips defense forced a three-and-out and CMU ran out the remaining clock behind Nichols III.
CMU will now go back home for the first time in two weeks to host the Toledo Rockets on Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, while the Ohio Bobcats will travel to Buffalo on Oct. 16 at noon Eastern for their third conference contest.