Led by a stout defensive performance and a strong debut by Michigan transfer Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan escaped with a 20-16 victory over FCS opponent Chattanooga Thursday night.
Entering the season as one of many options in a crowded Chippewa backfield, Rawls emerged as the best running game weapon for CMU against Chattanooga. Rawls rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, leading what was an otherwise anemic and oft penalized Chippewa attack. Quarterback Cooper Rush completed 15 out of 26 passing attempts for 173 yards, but often missed open targets and was not able to get star receiver Titus Davis involved in the game. Davis later left the game after suffering an undisclosed knee injury.
The Chippewa defense rose to the challenge of defending Chattanooga's high-powered offense. Outside of a 70-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, the Mocs did not have any substantial drives during the entire game, and were held scoreless during the second half. The Chippewas intercepted four of Jacob Huesman's passes, with two of those ending up in the hands of sophomore Tony Annese.
One major letdown for the Chippewas was the performance of their special teams unit, with the kicking game having a particularly poor outing. Ron Coluzzi missed one field goal, had another field goal blocked and also missed an extra point after a Jesse Kroll touchdown. Coluzzi, however, looked sharp in his debut as the punter for the Chippewas.
CMU is back in action next week on the road against Big 10 foe Purdue.