Football team playing for pride in last game
With bowl game eligibility and Mid-American Conference Championship contentions faded, the final game of Central Michigan’s football season is strictly about the “P” word.
“It’s a pride game and we want to end it right,” said quarterback Ryan Radcliff. “The season has had its ups and downs for sure and you’re only as good as your last game.”
The junior has thrown for more than 300 yards in back-to-back losses and ranks third in the MAC with 3,053 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
He could reach milestones today when the Chippewas play host to Toledo at 8 p.m. He needs three passing yards and five pass attempts to move into second and third all-time at CMU for career records respectively.
“Radcliff continues to play very well and I think we had 52 pass attempts last week and no sacks, which gives credit to the offensive line, tight ends and running backs who did a good job blocking,” said head coach Dan Enos.
Offensively, CMU will be without freshmen Courtney Williams (knee) and Anthony Garland (ankle) after they suffered injuries in the team’s 43-28 loss to Ohio Nov. 10.
Enos said junior wide out Cody Wilson and senior tight end David Blackburn are both game-time decisions. Wilson has been limited to placeholder for two consecutive weeks following an injury he suffered against Akron.
With holes at wide receiver, freshmen Jason Wilson and Billy Myler will see increased workloads.
“Jason Wilson has been playing all year, though he’s been hurt at times,” Enos said. “We think Billy Myler has a ton of potential and he’s got talent. He has the same type of ability as Cody Wilson, works hard and provides a lot for our team on both offense and special teams.”
Garland has been CMU’s top rusher, picking up 378 yards on the ground and averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
“We’ve got to remain balanced on offense and protect the quarterback,” Enos said. “We’re going to need to run the ball and chew up some clock.”
Juniors Darryll Stinson, Steve Winston and Nate Williams will also be game-time decisions on the defensive line.
“We just need to stay in our gaps and we need to tackle better, which has been an issue for us all year,” said linebacker Mike Petrucci.
Petrucci recorded nine tackles and a sack in his first game last week after being sidelined for four weeks because of injury.
The Rockets have three running backs who rushed more than CMU’s top back, including Adonis Thomas who ranks 10th in the MAC (691 yards).
Toledo’s offense is balanced with a dual-quarterback system. Junior Austin Dantin has thrown for 1,398 and 15 touchdowns, while Terrance Owens has thrown for 1,270 and nine touchdowns.
“They’re very good and they rushed for over 400 yards against Western last week,” Enos said. “They’re very talented and their quarterback is good, their running backs are good and they have several wide outs that can hurt you. You can’t really say you’ll stop one part.”
The Chippewas and Rockets have split their match-ups all-time, holding an 18-18-3 record. They split the past two meetings, each winning on their home turf.
CMU has eight seniors on its depth chart appearing in their last collegiate game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. All 14 seniors on roster will be recognized prior to kickoff.
“We’re going to try to show our best here at the end because it’s all we’ve got left,” Radcliff said. “This is our bowl game, this is our MAC Championship. We’re going to try to win it for the seniors, win it for the school and win it for pride.”
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