Chippewas survive first-half scare, beat Redhawks 38-27
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton picked a good time to have a career day for the Central Michigan football team.
With CMU having a difficult time against Southeast Missouri State in the first half, Tipton busted out for 180 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Chippewas came back from 14 points down to beat the Redhawks 38-27, in front of 15,250 at Kelly/Shorts stadium.
“It’s a great line,” Tipton said. “Those guys up front, they play hard, and every time I came off the field I let them know, ‘keep it up, we’re doing good.’ There were a lot of big holes tonight and I found them.”
The game did not start well for CMU, who found itself trailing 24-10 with 11:29 left in the second quarter.
“We didn’t script being down 24-10 in the second quarter and having to come back, but that’s football,” head coach Dan Enos said. “The longer I do this, the more I realize, you can never really count on anything happening the way you want it to.”
But the Chippewas responded with two rushing touchdowns, tying the game at 24, heading into the locker room. CMU finished the half with 229 yards rushing, led by Tipton, who had 120 and two touchdowns. Garland added 84 yards and a touchdown. He also finished the game with over 100 yards rushing.
However, Enos was disappointed with the performance of the defense in the first half.
“I think when you play an option team, it takes you a little while to get settled and they were able to capitalize on some explosive plays,” Enos said.
SEMO opened the second half with a 15-play drive, ending with a field goal and draining 8:58 minutes off the clock.
CMU quarterback Ryan Radcliff struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, but was able to settle down in the second half.
On the ensuing drive, the Chippewas continued to pound the ball on the ground, but Radcliff finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jarrett Fleming. It was the sophomore’s first touchdown reception of his career.
Radcliff threw 7-13 for 76 yards and an interception in the first half, but finished with 171 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought he missed a throw early, but besides that, I think he had two or three drops for sure,” Enos said. “But other than that, I thought he managed the game.”
Tipton scored his third touchdown of the day on a 1-yard rush, extending the Chippewas lead to 38-27 with 6:32 left in the game.
Sophomore linebacker Justin Cherocci led the defense with 15 tackles.
The Chippewas will face Michigan State next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in the highly anticipated in-state matchup.
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