For the first time in the three years that head coach Dan Enos has been in charge, the Central Michigan football team won a fourth game on Saturday, defeating Eastern Michigan 34-31. The win was an absolute must for a team that is trying to finish the season with three-straight wins to reach the .500 mark. So, without further delay, let’s hand out some grades.
Passing Offense: (A) Considering the fact that the leading-receiver and, according to head coach Dan Enos, the team’s “best player,” Titus Davis injured his ankle on the first play and was forced to leave the game, the passing offense performed well. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff was 20-of-34 for 284 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he was interception-free for the third-straight game. He has thrown just one in the last five games. Freshman receiver Andrew Flory, who the coaches raved about in camp, had a monster game in place of the injured Davis, catching nine passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Rushing Offense: (B+) Junior running back Zurlon Tipton eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fourth-straight game against the Eagles, running for 110 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. EMU actually did a good job on Tipton for most of the game, but his 32-yard run in the final minutes of the game sealed the victory for CMU. The rushing offense continues to be the team’s strength.
Passing Defense: (B) For the CMU pass defense, it was one of the better games of the season, yardage-wise. It allowed just 120 yards through the air. A 49-yard interception return for a touchdown by freshman safety Kavon Frazier in the third quarter was probably the biggest play of the game for the Chippewas, as it gave them their first lead of the game.
The only reason this grade isn’t an “A” is because of a blown coverage in the fourth quarter that made the score 34-31 – it seems like this happens at least once a week, and that has to stop.
Rushing Defense: (D) This was the area that killed CMU all day. The Eagles, who came into Saturday’s game as the eighth-best rushing offense in the Mid-American Conference. ran for 294 yards against the Chippewas.
EMU senior quarterback Alex Gillett, who did not start, scored twice on the ground, once on a 21-yard run up the middle on a fake field goal and once on a 53-yard run down the sideline. He finished the game with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Sophomore running back Bronson Hill added 83 yards on 13 carries.
Special Teams: (A) Senior kicker David Harman made both of his field goal attempts, one from 23 yards and one from 36 yards out. Junior punter Richie Hogan, who was named MAC Special Teams Player of the Week last week, averaged 37.8 yards per punt but pinned the Eagles inside their own 20-yard line twice.
Overall: (B) Much like the win over Akron on Oct. 27, this was a win the Chippewas had to have.
It might have been a bit closer than most would have liked, but, as the saying goes, “In November, it’s all about getting the job done.” The run defense was less than impressive, but, overall, it was an improved effort from the defense. The health of Davis will be important if CMU wants to finish the season .500. Whether or not this team can do that, with wins against Miami (OH) (4-6, 3-3) at home Saturday and at Massachusetts (1-9, 1-5) on Nov. 23, remains to be seen.