Tristan Mattson had never kicked a field goal attempt over his career prior to Saturday's game between the Central Michigan Chippewas (1-1) and the New Hampshire Wildcats (1-1), but he found himself at the center of attention at Kelly/Shorts Stadium as he crossed his chest and lined up for the try.
Mattson, primarily a kickoff specialist for Arkansas State prior to his arrival at Central, was officially listed as a co-starter with Josh Rolston, with neither kicker getting an attempt last week vs. Michigan State.
It was reminiscent of the game between these two teams fought 10 years ago to the week, where true freshman kicker Ron Coluzzi walked out to kick a 27-yard field goal set up by a Kavon Frazier fumble recovery as the clock struck triple-zero to give CMU the 24-21 victory in 2013.
Unlike Coluzzi, however, Mattson never had in-game placekicking experience. (Coluzzi scored all nine points vs. Michigan the week prior.) Also unlike Coluzzi's attempt, Mattson's try would be no gimmie, as the offense handed the ball off to long snapper Ben Pratt for a 47-yard attempt.
Pratt snapped the ball into play with four seconds remaining, Jake Walrath snagged the ball and put the laces out for the hold, and Mattson sent the kick to the moon, with the ball blazing through the uprights to gift the Chippewas a hard-earned 45-42 victory.
Mattson was now 1-of-1 on career field goal attempts, with a long attempt of 47 yards.
The celebration at the end was a release of the tension they had suffered through a trying game, as they had to hold off a program ranked #11 in the FCS standings coming into the contest.
The game started off simply by comparison for CMU, as Bert Emanuel Jr. glided through a soft front seven and sped away on a quarterback keep for a 66-yard touchdown to go up 7-0 on the fourth play from scrimmage.
The Wildcats and their prolific offense would choke the clock on their first possession of the afternoon, getting all the way to the CMU 22-yard line before CMU defensive back Elijah Rikard picked off Wildcats QB Max Brosmer in the endzone at the 7:52 mark. The play was negated due to an offsides penalty, earning UNH a new set of downs inside the CMU redzone, which they then converted for points on a Brosmer toss to Logan Tomlilnson from eight yards out to tie the game 7-7 with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter.
Bert Emaunel Jr. was intercepted by Joe Eichman on the next possession, but the Chippewas defense forced a three-and-out to essentially end the quarter.
Emanuel Jr. once again lit up the scoreboard quickly to start the second quarter, with a five-yard run to push the Chippewa lead to 14-7. Elijah Rikard would get his revenge on Max Brosmer on the Wildcats’ next series, giving CMU the chance to add to the lead once again. However, a CMU three-and-out gave UNH the ball back, and they responded in a big way, as Brosmer connected with FCS All-American Dylan Laube for his first score of the day on a broken 80-yard screen pass to tie the game back up at 14-14 with 11:41 to go in the half.
The ensuing kickoff saw fireworks and broken assignments of its own, as running back and return specialist Marion Lukes squirreled his way through the coverage for an 86-yard return touchdown. CMU once again took the lead, 21-14.
The game started to slip out of New Hampshire's reach after the kickoff foible, as a third-down fumble on a botched lateral between Brosmer and Laube resulted in a fumble recovered by CMU defensive end Maurice White. CMU would cash in on Emanuel's third touchdown of the day, this time on a pass to Tyson Davis from 31 yards out to push the lead back out to two scores at 28-14.
New Hampshire gathered itself back up on their next drive, with Brosmer finding Dylan Burke for a 21-yard score to pull within seven at the halftime break.
Central would be the first team to strike in the second half, riding Myles Bailey to a short rushing touchdown set up by a 36-yard Chris Parker reception to go up 35-21 at the 7:13 mark of the third quarter.
But as they had all day, the Wildcats came storming back.
Logan Tomlinson hauled in a 22-yard pawss from Brosmer to start the next drive, which was then followed by a 13-yard Colby Ramshaw reception and a 21-yard Dylan Laube run to set up a 12-yard Myles Thompson touchdown run, cutting the lead to 35-28 with 3:51 to go in the third quarter.
It was a knock-em-down, drag-em-out fight from there, with neither side giving an inch until the 9:58 mark of the fourth quarter, when UNH opted to try a pop pass fake punt on fourth-and-eight from their own 32-yard line. Upman Caleb Burke took the direct snap and fired a duck towards safety/gunner Joe Eichman, which fell short.
Jessie Prewitt III would make the Wildcats pay for the mistake three plays later, converting a 32-yard reception for points to (once again) put CMU up 14 points.
New Hampshire started another plodding drive in response, finding themselves faced with a fourth-and-10 from the CMU 40-yard line with 6:54 remaining. Brosmer would once again find Dylan Laube for the conversion, this time on a highlight reel 37-yard scamper down the sidelines to get to the CMU three-yard line.
Laube would finish the job with a two-yard score, and then turn around on the next offensive possession and score on a 71-yard reception on a wheel route to tie the game on his own in just over three minutes of game clock.
With the game now tied at 42 apiece, CMU had 72 yards of field and 3:06 of game clock ahead of them to try and win the game.
The Chips found early success on the ground, with 22 yards gained over the first five plays of the drive, but found themselves facing fourth-and-one at the UNH 38 with 44 seconds left after two passes short of the sticks.
Bert Emanuel Jr., with the game on the line, snuck up the middle for four yards to convert for a first down, then Myles Bailey would find five yards on third-and-10 to set up Tristan Mattson for the kick which would ultimately seal the deal.
Emanuel Jr. showed flashes of potential, finishing 7-of-19 for 193 passing yards, two passing scores and two interceptions, while finishing second on the team in net rushing yards (101), scoring twice. Jase Bauer completed one pass for 11 yards in relief.
Myles Bailey led CMU with 108 rushing yards and one score, while Chris Parker led CMU's receivers in receptions (three) and yards (124.)
Defensively, cornerback Donte Kent led the team in tackles (10) while Michael Heldman recorded three QB hits and a pass break-up. Jacques Bristol recorded a tackle-for-loss and had the team's lone sack.
For New Hampshire, Max Brosmer finished 32-of-50 for 493 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception. Dylan Laube set program and conference records ith his performance on Saturday, taking the Chips for 295 receiving yards and two scores on 12 receptions, while also picking up 30 yards and a score on the ground.
Myles Thomason also finished with a rushing score, while Logan Tomlinson and Caleb Buirke hauled in the other two Brosmer touchdown tosses.
Linebacker Ryan Toscano led the way for UNH, with nine total tackles, 1.5 tackels-for-loss, a sack and a QB hit. All-American defensive ends Josiah Silver (eight total tackles and two tackles-for-loss) and Dylan Ruiz (six total tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack) also made some hay against relatively inexperienced tackles for Central.
Joe Eichman and Noah Stansbury recorded the two interceptions.
CMU now prepares for a trip to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish in a Peacock-exclusive broadcast set for next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.
New Hampshire wil host Ivy League school Dartmouth in a contest scheduled for next Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern time.