Special teams stumble as football falls 28-8 at Boston College

Freshman offensive lineman Derek Smith reaches for the football during the game against Miami Ohio on Sept. 23 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Another game, another week the Central Michigan football team will search for answers. 

This time, the Chippewas (2-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) fell to the Boston College Eagles (2-3), 28-8 Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to extend its losing streak to three games.

Head coach John Bonamego said he’s “disappointed” in the loss, but was happy with the performance of inexperience players. 

“Obviously (we’re) very disappointed in the loss. I thought our kids played hard,” he said. “We’re battling through a lot of injuries on both sides of the ball. We had some young guys step up who took considerable snaps.” 

Consistency, fixing mistakes and finding an offensive identity have been the focal point for CMU throughout the season. 

Saturday was much of the same. 

In cold, rainy conditions at Alumni Stadium, the Boston College defense suffocated Central Michigan’s offense. 

Quarterback Shane Morris threw a career-high three interceptions and completed only 21-of-42 passes for 171 yards. Morris was sacked three times. 

With senior running back Devon Spalding out with injury, the Chippewas’ running game struggled once again, accumulating only 116 rushing yards. 

Redshirt freshman Kumehnnu Gwilly led the team with 47 yards on ten carries, including a one-yard touchdown at the 10:24 mark of the second quarter. Sophomore Jonathan Ward had only four carries for 31 yards, half of which coming on one carry. 

Bonamego said the struggles in the run game affected the ability of the passing game. 

“When you can’t run the ball efficiently it puts a lot of stress on the other things,” he said. “You want to try and stay in third-and-manageable and we were in a lot of third-and-long (situations). It’s just tough on any quarterback when you’re in those situations.” 

The Eagles hammered the Chippewas on the ground for 224 rushing yards. Running back AJ Dillion had a game-high 25 carries for 125 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown at the 4:24 mark of the first quarter. 

One of the lone bright spots on for the CMU offense was redshirt freshman quarterback Tony Poljan at lining up at wide receiver. The 6-foot-7 Poljan had a game-high 61 receiving yards on just three catches. He appeared to come down with a two-point conversion on the lone touchdown, but was called back after review. 

After CMU forced a safety to start the game, the Eagles stormed right back with a six-yard touchdown run from Jon Hillman the next drive. Hillman found the end zone twice more as he ran in a two-yard score before halftime and caught a three-yard touchdown halfway through the third quarter to extend the lead to 28-8. 

Hillman finished with 93 rushing yards on 23 carries. 

Special Teams Woes 

CMU's special teams were perhaps the biggest concern of the game. All of Boston College’s first three touchdowns came from great field position from short punts. 

Off the leg of junior punter Jack Sheldon, the Eagles had four punt returns for a whopping 128 yards. The Chippewas punted eight times total, averaging 41 yards. 

Senior kicker Michael Armstrong missed a 35-yard field goal late in the game — his only attempt of the afternoon. 

What’s Next

The Chippewas head to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio Bobcats (3-1) on Saturday, Oct. 7  at 2 p.m. 

Bonamego said his team still has to work on limiting mistakes and costly turnovers to finish the season strong. 

“We’ve got seven games left. We have everything in front of us. We have a locker room of outstanding young men, we’ve got a great coaching staff,” he said. “We have to learn not to hurt ourselves. We have to execute at a higher degree of consistency still. 

“At times, we made some mistakes that cost us and when you’re playing against a team that has talented players like Boston College does you can’t be giving them the ball back, and we can’t have penalties, we can’t have turnovers.”