CMU 37, UMass 0: Chips blow out Minutemen, move game closer to bowl eligibility
Needing a win Saturday to remain in contention for bowl eligibility, the Central Michigan football team got it, and did so emphatically, with a 37-0 rout of Massachusetts before an announced crowd of 8,763 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
CMU (5-6, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) did it every which way, with the offense–read: Quarterback Cooper Rush and receiver Titus Davis, turning good field position into points, and the defense coming up with key turnovers and timely stops.
"We didn't run the ball as well as we would have liked, but when people take one thing away they got to give you something else," said head coach Dan Enos. "We were able to capitalize in some man-coverage (defense) and utilize our receivers."
Despite windy and cold conditions, the Chippewas tried a balanced attack early, finding success in the passing game, namely Davis. A 38-yard pass from Rush (13-for-21, 231 yards) to Davis and a 23-yard pass over the shoulder of tight end Connor Odykirk helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Zurlon Tipton, giving CMU a quick 7-0 lead.
The Chippewas struggled to run the football all game, with UMass protecting against any large gains, but Rush found Davis seven times for 154 yards and two touchdowns, moving the junior into second-place all-time in school history (Bryan Anderson, 28) in touchdown receptions with 24.
Davis caught a 34-yard touchdown pass with 7:34 to go in the second quarter to put the Chippewas up 24-0, spinning around in the end zone to catch a ball that was thrown a bit behind him. He followed up with a 30-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, helping the Chippewas extend their lead to 34-0 and put the game away.
"The last couple weeks I've just been seeing straight man (defense)," Davis said. "As a receiver you love that and you just got to take advantage of it. If they're going to keep doing that then we're just going to keep taking advantage."
And then there was the defense. After coming up huge in a win over Western Michigan last week, the unit responded again Saturday, intercepting three passes by UMass quarterback A.J. Doyle (6-for-16, 45 yards) and recovering a fumble, highlighted by a 34-yard return for a touchdown by freshman safety Tony Annese.
Same distance two weeks in a row.
"I didn't even know until after the game," Annese said. "They told me it was 34 (yards) again. That's kind of crazy."
UMass (1-10, 1-6 MAC) was without starting tight end Rob Branchflower and left tackle Anthony Dima, who did not make the trip to Mount Pleasant due to injury.
"They are two seniors that have started more football games than anyone on our offense if not our entire football team," UMass head coach Charley Molnar said. "They are both pro prospects and neither one was out there, so it certainly impacts our ability to run the football and pass protect and do the things we need to do."
The Chippewas close the regular season at 2 p.m. Friday against Eastern Michigan.
Contact Aaron McMann: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AaronMcMann.