According to Wikipedia, a poltergeist is a type of ghost or other supernatural being supposedly responsible for physical disturbances. The Syracuse Orange have presented themselves as a ghost needing to be shown the exit in a loud and disturbing manner. Last year, the Orange visited the Chippewas' home at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant Michigan at a low point for the Central Michigan program. The result was a one-sided loss to the Orange featuring five sacks of quarterback Cooper Rush before a large home crowd.
CMU head coach John Bonamego was facing his first away game as the new head coach of a program that he is trying to right by eliminating the kind of mistakes that will prevent his squad from succeeding against an ACC opponent. He had his work cut out for him.
Cooper Rush did his part by leading his team on a scoring drive that ended with a Brian Eavey 28 yard field goal. It was all Orange after that for most of the first half. A big play featuring a downfield lateral gave Syracuse a shot at a 21 yard field goal which was converted to tie the game at 3-3.
The ensuing CMU drive stalled due to a clip on senior Nick Beamish. Syracuse responded with a 61 yard bomb that put the ball on the CMU 4 yard line. An easy keeper by quarterback Eric Dungey gave the Orange its first lead 10-3 on the next play.
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The second quarter started the way the first quarter ended. Another stalled CMU drive gave Syracuse the ball. Two bang bang big plays produced a 17-3 Syracuse lead. However, the Orange lost quarterback Dungey on a late hit by CMU on the scoring play. It didn't seem to phase the Orange. A Cooper Rush to Joe Bacci four yard touchdown strike brought the Chips to 17-10, but a tandem of Orange quarterbacks led the Orange to a score with less than a minute to go in the half and a seemingly secure 24-10 halftime lead.
If you are a Chippewa fan, the second half was complete insanity. Like crazy over the coo coo's nest insanity. Cooper Rush went from hero to goat to hero so many times that he wasn't sure what his role was. Devon Spalding capped an eight play 95 yard drive with a four yard run to bring the Chips to within 7.
Cooper Rush then turned the ball over twice on a fumble and then on a pick and it looked like the Syracuse lead would hold. Late in the fourth quarter, the Chips were given one last shot. Taking over from their own ten yard line, Rush led the Chips on a drama filled 90 yard drive that ended with a Ben McCord 25 yard touchdown reception with 0:02 left to send the game to overtime
The Chips got the ball first and drove to the Orange one yard line. Devon Spalding, who played the game of his career, made the wrong decision on a cut on third down and was stopped for a two yard loss. Brian Eavey made an easy kick to give the Chips a 27-24 lead.
The CMU defense had throttled Syracuse in the second half. However, on its overtime possession, the Orange had just enough juice to squeeze accross the goal line for a touchdown and an overtime win.
The poltergeist is gone. Bonamego's Chips are a far cry from what they were last year. This is a program on the rise, getting better with each game. Of course, Bono will say that an overtime loss against an ACC foe is not a moral victory. However, on this Saturday afternoon, his team came back from adversity and played like winners.