With the undefeated Western Michigan Broncos on a bye week, both the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Eastern Michigan Eagles had very favorable chances to become bowl eligible. For Central, it would be their fourth bowl game appearance in five seasons, while it’d be the first postseason appearance for the Eagles since 1987.
But instead of popping champagne of celebrating of sorts here on Monday, we’re left scratching our heads at these results and thinking, “What happened?”
KENT STATE 27, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 24
Central Michigan was at home on Saturday against Kent State, who entered the game 2-6 overall and lost four of their last five games. However, the Golden Flashes have lost two games in a row three separate times this year. The previous two were followed up with a win and that happened again on Saturday, this one coming in rather dramatic fashion.
The Chips were held scoreless in the 1st quarter and it was a 10-10 at the break. Quarterback Cooper Rush connected with wideout Corey Willis in the end zone in the 2nd quarter for a team-leading ninth time this season. The Chips also added safety to start the frame. CMU opened it up in the 3rd with a pair of scores to make it 24-10. Rush hooked up with Mark Chapman from 40 yards out, and then defensive back Tony Annese added a 28-yard pick six. Kent State did add a touchdown late in the 3rd.
The Flashes blanked CMU 10-0 in the 4th, including a 35-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
Unfortunately, sloppy play was a theme of the game for the Chippewas. Rush threw three interceptions, fortunately none of them resulted in KSU points. CMU also had two fumbles, one from the aforementioned Willis that was lost, recovered by the Flashes, who turned that into six points. And Chips kicker Brian Eavey missed both of his field goal attempts, one of which was blocked from 33 yards out.
A game of “what if’s” for the Chippewas results in a loss and having to wait another week to try and go bowling. For the game, Rush finished 20/43 for 244 yards to go with his two TDs and three INTs. Three CMU tailbacks combined to rush 30 times for just 105 yards. And Willis and Chapman, the two recipients of Rush-authored passing scores, combined for 10 catches and 151 yards.
MIAMI (OH) 28, EASTERN MICHIGAN 15
Like CMU, Eastern Michigan had a great chance at home against an underachieving league opponent but the RedHawks of Miami (OH) came ready to play and it appears the Eagles did not. The Hawks absolutely ambushed EMU right out of the gate and the early deficit was too much to overcome.
Miami opened up a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter, which included a 54-yard touchdown scamper. Oddly enough, it was the first of two scoring plays from the Hawks on Saturday that went for 54 yards. EMU kicker Paul Fricano split the uprights from 40 yards out to get the Eagles on the board before halftime, down 14-3.
Miami inflated the lead again in the 3rd with the lone touchdown for either side in that quarter, making it 21-3. Eastern scored a pair of touchdowns in the 4th, both passing scores from quarterback Brogan Roback. One went to Nigel Kilby for 4 yards, the other Dieuly Aristilde for 75 yards, his first receiving touchdown of the season. Unfortunately for EMU, they tried and failed to go for a two-point conversion on both scores. And sandwiched in between the two EMU touchdowns was Miami’s fourth touchdown on the game.
Roback had another solid game, going 23/39 for 328 yards. He was picked off once during the game as well. Since his three-game suspension to start the season, Roback now in six games has nearly 1,400 passing yards, completing a career-best 62.8 percent of his passes and has 10 passing touchdowns versus just three picks. The running game was virtually non-existent for EMU on Saturday, officially just 33 rushing yards. The dip in that department is aided by five Miami sacks of Roback, who was credited for -18 rushing yards officially.
The touchdown reception for Kilby was his fourth of the season, it was just one of three catches for 18 yards on the day. As for Aristilde, it was just his second game and was easily Roback’s favorite target. He hauled in a team-high seven catches for a game-high 193 yards.