Central Michigan (8-4, 6-2 MAC) completes their 2021 campaign with a win on Senior Day in front of the hometown crowd on Friday afternoon, taking home a 31-10 victory over Eastern Michigan.
The first quarter was back and forth, with teams teading both punts and turnover-on-downs, but it was Central Michigan who struck first on 65-yard drive capped by a nine-yard pass from Daniel Richardson to JaCorey Sullivan to give CMU the early 7-0 margin with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Eastern Michigan’s Chad Ryland got the Eagles on the board with a 50-yard field goal to make the game 7-3. The kick put Ryland first atop EMU’s “most points scored in career” list, surpassing 300 career points on the play.
Ryland’s peer Marshall Meeder would sail the 37 yard field goal for CMU to make it 10-3 as time expired in the first half.
Central Michigan would open the second half with a bang, as freshman returner Marion Lukes took advantage of EMU’s open lanes in return coverage, taking the kick back 100 yards to record the longest touchdown scored at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The extra-point attempt gave CMU the 17-3 lead.
Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans would cap a 65-yard drive lasting over five minutes with a two-yard touchdown run to make it 17-10 on the ensuing drive. This would be Samson Evans’ 12th of the season and the most touchdowns for an Eastern Michigan player since Darius Jackson scored 16 in 2015 to set Eastern Michigan’s single-season touchdown record.
Central Michigan would add another touchdown with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter, putting the finishing touches on an 80-yard drive with a 26-yard pass from Daniel Richardson to JaCorey Sullivan, their second connection of the day. Central Michigan would add the final touchdown with a 33-yard run from Lew Nichols to make the final score 31 to 10.
Lew Nichols would fall 8 yards short of 200 yards, which would have extended his streak of such games to three in a row, but did finish with 196 yards to extend up his streak of 100+ yard rushing games to six.
Central Michigan’s Daniel Richardson would go 12-for-24 for 130 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Eastern Michigan’s Ben Bryant would go 24-for-35 for 221 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and suffered seven sacks due to relentless pass rush overwhelming the defensive line. Eastern Michigan would finish the game with five net rushing yards. Eastern Michigan got 1 interception while Central Michigan got one fumble recovery.
Central, with the victory, cliched a share of the MAC West division title, but do not get to travel to Detroit to face the winner of the Kent State-Miami game. Northern Illinois gets that honor due to their head-to-head victory over CMU earlier in the league season. However, it’s not all bad for the Chippewas, as they won both trophy games on their calendar, holding the Victory Cannon and the Michigan MAC Trophy for the first time since 2017.
With the loss, Eastern Michigan finishes 7-5 overall, and awaits their bowl destination, coming off its best season since 2016 (also a 7-5 effort.) It’s the third seven-win season under head coach Chris Creighton since his tenure began in 2014. They’re seeking their first bowl win since 1987, having gone 0-3 in the Creighton era.
Both teams will wait over the next two weeks to find out their postseason bowl destinations, having already clinched bowl eligibility prior to today.