Defense gives up big yards to Redhawks
The past two Football Championship Subdivision opponents the Central Michigan football team faced in its home opener scored six points – total.
Those seasons ended 3-9.
Southeast Missouri State and its option offense put up 24 points on the Chippewas in one half Thursday, but lost 38-27 in front of 15,250 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
“Defensively, I was disappointed with how we played in the first half,” said head coach Dan Enos. “We’ve had a really good camp on defense. I think when you play an option team, it takes you a little while to get settled in there and they were able to capitalize with some explosive plays and our turnovers and got a lead on us.”
The Redhawks proved that receiver Spencer Davis’ 55-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter was not a fluke.
Scoring possession after possession allowed SEMO to break out to a 24-10 lead halfway through the second quarter. Senior running back Levi Terrell racked up 78 yards on 15 carries and redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop added his own rushing touchdown to the mix.
The Chippewas only forced one combined sack on a mobile Lathrop (17 carries, 31 yards). He also threw a 15-yard touchdown to junior receiver D.J. Foster (six receptions, 97 yards), and the Redhawks’ balanced offensive attack allowed them to be within one possession, until junior running back Zurlon Tipton punched in a one-yard touchdown for his third touchdown of the game, with less than eight minutes on the clock.
SEMO rushed for 188 yards and threw for 120, making it closer than CMU wanted.
“The option game (was corrected),” senior defensive back Jahleel Addae said. “We were kind of new to it. Attack the pitch, we wanted to keep the ball in the quarterback’s hands and that was the difference. We wanted to keep the ball in his hands and not allow him to pitch it and get to the perimeter of our defense.”
The Chippewas struggled defensively last season, allowing 40-plus points in five games last season, and let in at least 30-plus points in eight games.
The dynamic rushing duo of sophomore Anthony Garland and Tipton carried the ball 33 times for 272 yards. They will face Michigan State’s top-10 defense at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, where the defense will have to hold its ground against the Spartans.
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