Flynn ends Kelly/Shorts career with win
18 Chippewas ended their home careers for CMU on Saturday including Head Coach Dick Flynn.
The group walked off the Kelly/Shorts turf for the last time with a 29-26 triumph over Eastern Michigan.
Even with the Tuesday announcement of his resignation at season’s end, Flynn didn’t look at the game as a going away gift.
Instead, he turned the attention to the players.
“It (this win) doesn’t mean a whole lot personally (for me). For the kids it’s a real positive,” he said.
With the win, CMU improved to 3-7 and 2-5 in the Mid-American Conference in what has been a tough season full of losses and injuries.
“I’m happy for our players. They deserve this one because they hung tough all year and really wanted it. They kept finding it in themselves to make plays. It was a great win for our football team,” Flynn said.
Emotion played a key factor in the game, but again Flynn diverts the attention to the athletes.
“With the emotion of the kids, it’s been one hell of a week. I think they came together for themselves to prove that they’re better than their record,” he said.
Flynn said the win was a great reward because of the team’s attitude and character amidst the trials.
“These guys have been through a lot and we’ve had players who gave it all they had when they had nothing left. They never pointed fingers. They hung together and played as a team,” he said.
Senior defensive tackle Joe Adam echoed Flynn’s comments.
“It was a great way to go out. It was a real emotional game for us. We were excited to come out the way we did,” he said.
Adam, however, does believe that Flynn’s resignation gave the Chippewas an added spark.
“Yeah, that’s in the back of our minds. He means a lot to us and he deserves to go out a winner. We will play our hearts out at Ball State,” he said.
The Chippewas showed their desire throughout the game and came up with key plays on both sides of the ball.
Although the Eagles gained more total yards (418) than the Chippewas (375), CMU did what was necessary to put more points on the board.
“We made it as tough as we could on ourselves, but I told our football team that the better team always wins and today CMU was the better football team,” EMU Head Coach Rick Rasnick said.
EMU quarterback Walt Church threw two interceptions which gave CMU good field position to work with.
Freshman linebacker Darvin Lewis made one of the interceptions which gave him five on the season, tying him with Ray Bentley for most picks by a linebacker in a season.
“I give all the praises and thanks to God for the success I’ve had this season,” Lewis said.
Another freshman, Jammarl O’Neal also put his name among CMU’s all-time leaders.
O’Neal caught three passes for 135 yards to put him second on the single season list for yards in a season (938) and sixth on the list for receptions (52) in a season.
“I just wanted to come out here and prove what I could do and give it my best effort,” he said.
Flynn also commented on the effort of an ailing senior tailback Eric Flowers.
“I don’t know how Eric Flowers finished the game today,” he said.
Flowers ran for 57 yards on 25 carries and fought numerous injuries.
Flowers’ reserve Ira Gooch put together 180 all-purpose yards, while Pete Shepherd completed 12-of-19 passes for 217 yards.
CMU pulled out all the stops offensively including a 34 yard trick play TD that saw tailback Gooch throwing the ball to Shepherd to put CMU up 17-6 with 11:41 remaining in the first half.
“That’s a play we’ve been working on all year. Jammarl (O’Neal) made a great block and I was just thinking ‘Catch the ball,’” Shepherd said.
Central would never trail in the game, but Eastern would also never be out of the game.
After falling behind by 11 points, EMU fought back for the rest of the game to get within three points and give itself a chance to win with 2:16 left.
EMU began the second half with its first touchdown on a five yard pass to Matt Kelly from Walt Church.
“The best part of our game was to come out of halftime and score. That and coming back at the end of the football game,” Rasnick said.
Tailback Eric Powell ignited the comeback as he rushed for 68 yards on a third and one with 2:29 remaining that almost went to the endzone.
Instead, he scored on the next play (a one yard run).
That was followed by a converted two point attempt to put EMU within three points with 2:16 to go.
Immediately following the touchdown, the ball was back into EMU hands as it recovered its onsides kick attempt.
Eastern took over on its own 41 and moved the ball to the Central 47.
EMU would get no closer as it could not convert on third and fourth down pass attempts by Church.
CMU ran out the last 1:44 of the game.
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