Football

What now? Bowl hopes fade as CMU suffers fourth consecutive loss

This couldn’t have been what Dan Enos imagined when he accepted the head coaching job in January.

One season after the Central Michigan football team reached a new high, winning 12 games and cracking the Top 25 for the first time in school history, it appeared to hit a new low Saturday afternoon at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

A 71-yard touchdown pass from Miami quarterback Zac Dysert to a wide open Andrew Cruse down the right sideline with 19 seconds remaining gave the RedHawks a 27-20 victory and handed CMU its fourth consecutive loss in front of a homecoming crowd of 24,761.

“It hurts,” Enos said after the loss. “We work real hard. Everybody’s disappointed.”

And with that play went the Chippewas hopes for another Mid-American Conference championship.

The loss, the team’s second at home this season, drops their record to 1-3 in the Mid-American Conference and into a tie for last place with Eastern Michigan in the West Division.

The same EMU team that snapped its 18-game losing streak Saturday by beating the same Ball State team that outplayed the Chippewas in their own stadium two weeks ago.

“Guys are frustrated. Coaches are (too),” Enos said. “It’s wearing on them.”

Offense not getting it done

Sophomore Ryan Radcliff recorded 300 yards passing for the second game of the season Saturday, going 29-for-52 for 329 yards, but was overshadowed by three interceptions and an inability to maximize scoring inside Miami’s 20-yard line.

CMU drove into Miami’s red zone six times, but could only punch it in for six points twice, settling for field goals on three other occasions.

Radcliff said he didn’t have an answer as to why the team continues to struggle in their opponents’ red zones.

“It’s something we’re going to have to figure out,” he said. “We’re taking too many field goals down there and not getting in the end zone. It sucks because it was pivotal point in our season. Before this game, we were still able to achieve a lot of the goals we had set.”

The running attack was also held in check as CMU’s leading rusher in the game, senior Carl Volny, was limited to 47 yards on five carries.

Junior Paris Cotton was held to 23 yards on 15 carries, and had a costly fumble on the RedHawks’ 1-yard line in the second quarter.

“One of our goals was to run the ball,” Enos said. “We were trying to be persistent with it, but as you start to go through the game and you’re not gaining yards, it’s tough to keep calling those things. We’re not getting things done inside like we need to.”

Defensive struggles

The defense also played a major role in the game, specifically with Miami’s game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Enos said the RedHawks’ 71-yard touchdown pass was the product of a missed assignment by freshman cornerback Avery Cunningham, who started in place of an injured LaVarus Williams.

“We’re not blaming it on him, but he’s going to have to learn,” Enos said.

CMU’s secondary allowed Dysert to throw for a career-high 399 yards on 29-of-47 passing.

Senior linebacker Nick Bellore, noticeably frustrated following the game, likened the defensive mistakes to that of the 2007 and 2008 season, in which the defensive unit ranked toward the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“It’s been rough because we’ve been spoiled,” he said. “The last three years, we were probably the most exciting team to watch and always seemed to win the close games. We don’t have that this year.”

The schedule does not get any easier for the Chippewas, who travel to DeKalb, Ill., on Saturday to play MAC West leader Northern Illinois (5-2, 3-0 MAC). The Huskies have the No. 1 scoring offense, averaging better than 30 points per game, while giving up 20 points per game, also tops in the MAC.

A win and the team could make strides toward salvaging the season, but another loss could send the team into a tailspin finish that nobody — on the team or in the stands — wants to see. Games against rival Western Michigan, Navy and Toledo (tied with NIU for MAC West lead) remain.

“There’s still five games ahead of us and we’re going to come out and play five games at least,” Radcliff said. “By no means is it over.”

NOTES: The loss snapped CMU’s 18-game winning streak against MAC teams from Ohio. Its last homecoming loss was against Bowling Green in 2004. … Mike Haywood, in his second year as head coach at Miami, earned his first road victory. … Senior linebacker Nick Bellore started his 48th consecutive game. … Senior receiver Kito Poblah moved into eighth all-time at CMU in receptions (134).

16 Comments

  1. Michmediaperson says:

    Bowl game? This season is long gone. It's time for Ernie and Trey and basketball.

    This is the most disappointing CMU football season ever.

    We hired the wrong guy to run the program. Some people at CMU think hiring Big 10 assistants is the way to go. We didn't learn from DeBord.

    Zach or Mike should have been hired. While Enos was an assistant at Worstern Michigan in Kalamazoo, Mike was coaching in the Super Bowl.

    We should be 6-1 right now.

    Hopefully, the Big Ten Network will keep running re-runs of our win at MSU. We can re-live the good old days!

    • I get a kick out of people that say “we should be” when referring to sports records…you are what you are and that's what you deserve. CMU fans have gotten used to winning the past 3 or 4 years, but this team is mediocre on a good day. After all the players CMU lost last season would anybody realistically expect a bowl game this season?

      • Florenceschneider says:

        CMU would be eligible for a bowl game with 7 wins. Granted, the Chippewas lost some tremendous talent from last season's 12-2 championship team. To expect another 12 win, championship season would have been unrealistic. However, with 18 starters returning from that team it is NOT unrealistic to expect a winning season and bowl game. It is NOT unrealistic to expect victories AT HOME against two of the worst teams/programs in the MAC.

        No, CMU fans should not expect a championship every year, however, it is not unrealistic or inappropriate to expect winning seasons. Our program has accomplished far, far to much to expect anything less.

        Dan…run the spread!

      • Probably not a bowl game, but good programs retool quickly… Michigan, Ohio State, etc… and I put some MAC programs in the same category. Remember Marshall, it was good every single year in the league. Good recruiting and coaching, that is what we lost.

  2. Now what? Pretty easy if you ask me: Purge the Spartan.

  3. What do you expect when a teacher(?) tries to jam a square peg into a round hole? No one gets satisfied! Bring back the SPREAD!

  4. Honestly I would be surprised if Central could win 2 more games, playing they way they have. It is truly sad at this point no matter what position you take, for or against the new coaching staff. This is a season that I feel most of us wish would just go away.

    • Yeah, no kidding. I'd be surprised if they win one more. Unless, Enos was to suddenly disappear. He's terrible. It's so sad to see how he took a top 25 program and took it to below average. Yep, I'm just waiting for this season to be over. I just hope they have enough brains to get rid of that idiot and his staff. Hey, maybe Dan Lefevour or Bryan Anderson would be open to taking the coaching position. Would that be nice or what.

  5. Michmediaperson says:

    I've got the solution!

    The Minnesota job just opened up. Let's get Butch Jones to move to the Big Ten and take the Minnesota job.

    We call Cincinnati and tell them, hey, you've done well with your last two hires from Central Michigan, Dan Enos is ready for Cincy. Hire Dan the Man!

    Then, we can get a new coach for next year.

    Problem solved!

  6. From “12-2″ to “2-10″ in one year!!!

    Get back to the offense that works in the MAC.

    What happended to the team speed, my granny moves faster.

    Dan E & company, you are all being out coached in every game, Do Something, or get

    out of the Mt City.

  7. Get rid of Radcliff. Give someone else a chance!!

  8. This year there has been great turnover amongst both coaches and players, or course. It would have been great to keep winning at the same level or near the same level that the team was without any interruption, but maybe it was a bit unrealistic to expect. I believe fans should be patient and wait and see what happens over the rest of this year and next. As matter of fact, there is an old rule of thumb in college football (I heard this from one person, anyway) which says that a coaching regime can't really be judged until their third year. If Enos has the team back among the MAC conference front runners by then, his efforts would have to be considered a success. If he wins a conference title by then, we might be back in the market for a new coach as we watch him accept a BCS conference head coaching job. Fire Up Chips!

    • With the way the team has been playing, I am hestitant to give Enos a second year, let along a third year! By then, the entire program could be ruined and would need to be rebuilt from the ground up! I will begrudginly give him one more year but if he doesn't produce after Year 2, then he should be replaced!

  9. Steve92grad says:

    Reply to centmich77 – Maybe you're right. I guess it just depends on how much progress is made from this season to next.

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