Morris' five touchdown passes lift CMU to 45-27 win at Kansas


Senior defensive back Amari Coleman celebrates before the football game against the University of Rhode Island on Aug. 31 in Kelly / Shorts Stadium. 

The highly-anticipated debut of Central Michigan’s spread offense left something to be desired in the season opener, but it appears adjustments were made and mistakes have been corrected. 

Behind a career-high five touchdown passes from graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris, the Chippewas’ offense exploded for 590 yards and defeated the Kansas Jayhawks, 45-27, on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. 

CMU improves to 2-0 on the season and heads to Syracuse, New York next Saturday to play the Orange (3:30 p.m.)

"(It was) a great victory for us. The team showed a lot of resiliency, poise, big improvement from a week before," said head coach John Bonamego. "We still have a lot of work to do, we still have to clean up on both sides of the ball and the kicking game. But the effort was there, the belief was there, and the culture was there." 

Spreading It Out

Following a quiet first quarter, Morris and his receivers found rhythm and the offense didn’t take its foot off the gas. The Chippewas scored 24 points in the second quarter, capping with a six-yard touchdown to senior Corey Willis with six seconds left. 

Morris found junior tight end Logan Hessbrook, who made a double-move, for a 47-yard touchdown earlier in the quarter. He hit senior wide receiver Mark Chapman from 14 yards out for the game's first touchdown with 10:57 left in the half. 

Chapman finished with eight catches for 168 yards and three touchdowns (all career highs). His counterpart, Willis, added eight catches of his own for 140 yards and a score.

"It's really a testament to our team and how we believe in each other," Chapman said. "We came in expecting to win, prepared to win and it was a beautiful thing, the chemistry and making plays." 

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Morris completed 28-of-37 passes to seven different targets for 467 yards in the game. Morris, who threw an interception and had two fumbles against Rhode Island, found his groove on Saturday and said this was a game the team expected to win. 

"We started clicking. It's a beautiful thing, football, when you execute what you practice all week," Morris said. "We felt that Kansas is a team we should beat. Us beating a Power Five team, and handily beating a Power Five team, says a lot about our resiliency." 

The Chippewas led 24-6 at the half, but the Jayhawks responded with 14 straight points after the break to make it a four-point game. CMU answered with a seven play, 73-yard drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by senior Devon Spalding. 

After a stop by the defense, CMU marched right back down the field and found Chapman for a seven-yard touchdown on fourth and goal to push the lead to 38-20. 

Kansas responded with a three-yard touchdown run of its own from Dom Williams at the 10:02 mark of the fourth quarter. However, Chapman took a bubble screen 75 yards to the endzone the very next play to put the game out of reach. 

After a sloppy, four-turnover performance in the opener against Rhode Island, the Chippewas gave up only one on Saturday when senior cornerback Amari Coleman fumbled a punt in the second quarter. 

The CMU defense on the other had two interceptions by safeties Josh Cox and Tyjuan Swain to give the team eight through two games. 

"When we play well, when we make the plays that are out there, I think we're capable of playing with anybody," Bonamego said. 

Side Notes:

· Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Childress left the game in the second quarter after injuring his leg celebrating a touchdown. He was seen on the sidelines in a leg brace in the second half. 

· CMU out gained KU with 8.19 yards per play to just 4.90. 

· Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward led the Chippewas with 60 rushing yards on 11 carries. He added 35 receiving yards in the contest. 

· Junior linebacker Alex Briones led all player with 10 tackles.