Around the state of Mitten State, each of the ‘Directional Michigan’ schools played their first game of the 2016 season over the last 72 hours. The Central Michigan Chippewas and Eastern Michigan Eagles earned blowout victories at home over Presbyterian and Mississippi Valley State respectively. Arguably the most impressive and noteworthy victory was the Western Michigan Broncos picking up a huge win on the road in Evanston against the Big Ten’s Northwestern.
Let’s dig into the numbers and see how everyone did.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 49, PRESBYTERIAN 3
Fire up, Chips! CMU got the ball rolling on Thursday with a home game against FCS opponent Presbyterian. The Chippewas opened up the scoring 38 seconds into the game on a two-play, 75-yard drive. The big play came on a 69-yard rush from junior running back Devon Spalding. The Westland, MI-native finished with 15 carries and 135 yards in addition to that score to put CMU up 7-0 at the time.
Senior running back Jahray Hayes punched it in from two yards out halfway through the 2nd to make it 14-0 Chips, one of his three touchdowns on the day. He added one in the 3rd and one in the 4th, finishing with nine rushes for 43 yards. Senior quarterback Cooper Rush completed his one touchdown pass on the day late in the 3rd on a 46-yard completion to junior and Holland-native Corey Willis, that made it 28-3 at the time. Rush finished 16/26 for 237 yards, one TD and two interceptions. And the touchdown catch by Willis was one of two catches for him, totaling 48 receiving yards.
After Hayes rushed for his second score early in the 4th, CMU added to their lead on a 26-yard pick-six from Flint-native Amari Coleman, making it 42-3. Capping off the scoring was a 45-yard run from freshman Jonathan Ward.
Up next for the Chips is a daunting task, they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma and play the (21) Oklahoma State Cowboys. Kickoff is set for noon ET on Fox Sports 1.
EASTERN MICHIGAN 61, MISS VALLEY ST 14
Eastern Michigan in their game on Friday against FCS foe Mississippi Valley State scored 61 points, which tied for the second-most points scored by the Eagles in a single game since the turn of the century and the 47-point differential was the second-largest during that same span.
The Eagles raced out to a 21-0 lead after the 1st quarter. All three scores came within a six-minute frame. Redshirt sophomores Ian Eriksen (Clarkston-native) and Shaq Vann each punched it in from less than five yards out. It was the first of two for both Eriksen and Vann on the afternoon. The next three touchdowns came on passes from junior QB Todd Porter, passes completed to WRs redshirt junior Lavonte Robinson and junior Antoine Porter, and redshirt freshman tight end Nigel Kilby. The quarterback Porter finished 15/22 for 171 yards, and Kilby led all EMU receivers with 67 yards.
EMU got 26 of their 61 points in the 3rd quarter. In addition to the TD pass to Kilby and Vann’s second TD of the game was a field goal, a safety, and a 4-yard run from redshirt sophomore Blake Banham. And then Eriksen concluded the scoring for the Eagles late in the 4th. He and Vann combined for 253 yards on the ground. MVSU got their two scores in the 4th quarter.
Like CMU, Eastern now hits the road for a huge test in Week 2. They will visit Columbia and play the Missouri Tigers. It’s a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 22, NORTHWESTERN 21
It was one of the more exciting games that kicked off at noon ET on Saturday as Western Michigan picked up their first win in their last 16 tries against a Big Ten team, and the first such victory in the P.J. Fleck era.
This game went back-and-forth virtually all game long and seemed to fit the style for both teams. Northwestern opened up the scoring a little more than five minutes into the 1st on a 1-yard run from Justin Jackson, whom the Broncos had trouble stopping all game long. He finished with 23 carries and 124 yards and was responsible for all three of NU’s touchdowns on the afternoon.
A pair of field goals in the 2nd quarter from WMU freshman kicker Butch Hampton put the Broncos down 7-6 at halftime. Then the see-saw game really began in the second half. Senior QBZach Terrell needed just two and half minutes to drive the ball 72 yards downfield, highlighted by a 13-yard pass to freshman wideout D’Wayne Eskridge, putting WMU up 13-7. After Justin Jackson scored his second TD of the game roughly five minutes later to re-claim the lead for N’western, Hampton kicked another FG as the 3rd quarter drew to an end, giving Western a 16-14 lead.
Jackson scored with a little more than 12 minutes to go in the game to put the Wildcats back up 21-16. The next drive, WMU spent 12 plays and nearly seven minutes to find their way back in the end zone. A failed two-point conversion kept it a slim one-point lead, 22-21.
On the ensuing drive, Northwestern got the ball down to the WMU-6, 1st & Goal to go before a fumble into the end zone and recovered by the Broncos led to a touchback, giving WMU the ball and allowing them to run out the clock and open 2016 on a high note. Terrell was efficient on Saturday, going 26/36 for 231 yards and added another 40 on the ground. Sophomore RB Jamauri Bogan carried the rock 22 times for 103 yards and was responsible for the game-winning TD. Senior standout WR Corey Davis caught seven balls for 70 yards.
Western Michigan will play their first home game next Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3 against North Carolina Central.