That Cooper Rush guy might be decent after all.
After a solid performance in a loss to Western Michigan last week, the junior quarterback led his Central Michigan Chippewas (3-4, 2-1 MAC) to a 51-14 victory over the Buffalo Bulls (2-4, 0-2 MAC) on Saturday. He finished with 313 yards on 23-for-30 passing with four touchdowns, while helping put the game away in the 2nd quarter (with the help of his defense).
And boy did he start early.
On the first drive of the game, he used a solid mix of runs and passes, including a beautiful catch-juke-run play by Jesse Kroll to set up a Martez Walker 6-yard touchdown run. After Ron Willoughby caught a beautiful 34-yd pass to tie the game up midway through the quarter, Rush again moved the ball down the field before scoring on a quarterback sneak to give the Chippewas a 14-7 lead.
They wouldn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
While Buffalo was in the middle of an awful stretch of drives (turnover on downs, blocked punt for a safety, tipped pass for an interception, and a three-and-out), the Chippewas put together four straight touchdown drives starting with Rush's keeper. Then, Rush hit Kroll on a beautiful deep ball that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown to make it 21-7. After the safety, Rush led his team down the field in just over three minutes, hitting Trevor Thomas for his first career touchdown to make it 30-7. Rush would hit Anthony rice perfectly on a deep out route for a 23-yard score to make it 37-7. They would fail to score on one last drive before the half.
The Chippewa defense stole the show in the 2nd half, with their solid play keeping the Bulls off the board to protect the lead. Rush continued to lead his offense, but would see little results (albeit without much pressure to score). Martez Walker would score on a 1-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter, and Rush would find Eric Cooper for a 19-yard score - Cooper's first career touchdown - while only yielding a touchdown on a perfectly read Pick Six by Andrew Dadeboe early in the fourth.
"This was a big win for us to finish out our weekend portion of our home schedule," Chippewa coach John Bonamego said after the game. "We challenged our team all week to not let one disappointment turn into two. I really believe you can't let yourself get too high on the wins or too low on the losses."
The 51 point output was first 50-point scoring effort for the Chippewas since a 2010 win over Eastern Michigan. In addition to Rush's play, Kroll provided a solid output of 7 catches for 133 yards and the score. Kroll was Rush's favorite target on a day when the junior hit 10 different receivers. He also got solid rushing performances from Walker (60 yards on 20 carries and two scores) and Romello Ross (54 yards on 13 carries).
For the Bulls, they return to the drawing board after they appeared to be on track for bowl contention following a slim loss to a powerful Bowling Green team two weeks ago. Coming off a bye, Joe Licata was limited to just 133 yards on 13-for-25 passing. He was sacked once and his only interception was tipped at the line, but he was under pressure most of the day. As for the powerful runningback duo of Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson, they were held in check as well. Taylor finished with just 52 yards on 13 carries and Johnson had 23 yards on 9 carries.
For the Chippewas, the now head on the road for back-to-back Saturday games. They face Ball State at 3:00 PM on Saturday in a game between two teams fighting to stay alive in the MAC West race. For the Bulls, they head home to face an Ohio team that had been looking impressive until their loss today to Western Michigan. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 PM