Football blows out Ball State behind balanced offensive attack
In years past, the Central Michigan football team donned a balanced offensive attack.
The Chippewas (4-4, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) returned to their old ways, as the team successfully used the run and pass game in a 56-9 victory over Ball State (2-5, 0-3) at Scheumann Stadium.
“Overall (I'm) very pleased," head coach John Bonamego said. "(The) coaches did a good job and our players did a good job of staying together, staying the course and really continuing to grind."
CMU’s victory helped keep them in postseason contention and gave the Chippewas the series lead over the Cardinals.
Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward opened up the scoring for the Chippewas on a 16-yard rushing score with 10:06 left in the first quarter.
Morgan Hagee, a freshman kicker, connected on a two field goals of 40 and 41 yards to cut BSU’s deficit to one point against the Chippewas early in the second quarter.
After the two field goals, Ball State did not find the scoreboard until early in the third quarter, but CMU did not stop scoring.
Senior wide receiver Tyler Conklin was open downfield with BSU cornerback Josh Miller trailing. Graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris delivered a 34-yard touchdown pass.
In the following drive, Morris found senior wide receiver Corey Willis on a wheel route for a 31-yard touchdown, giving CMU a 21-6 lead with 3:00 left in the second quarter.
Conklin’s catch was his fourth touchdown reception since coming back from injury two weeks ago. Also, this was Willis’ first score since CMU’s week two victory over Kansas.
CMU sophomore Jarrod Davis blocked Nathan Snider’s punt with just over a minute left in the first half. The block set up a three-yard rushing touchdown for Ward.
Ward led the run game with 13 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Romello Ross was also on top of his game, going for 88 yards on 15 attempts.
With 5:17 left in the third quarter, Morris found Willis for his second receiving touchdown of the game. Once again, the senior wide receiver was wide open. Morris threw a 63-yard score, giving CMU a 35-9 edge.
Morris found Willis in the end zone one more time in the fourth quarter, giving CMU a 42-9 lead.
“He did a great job of taking what was there, getting rid of the ball if he didn’t have anything," Bonamego said, regarding Morris' play. "He did a nice job of being smart with the football. Very pleased with his performance today.”
Morris finished 19-of-21 through the air for 199 yards and four scores. Willis caught five passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout win.
For the first time since 2011, Central Michigan returned a fumble for a touchdown. Sean Bunting forced Ball State’s third-string quarterback, Zack Blair, to drop the football. The ball was picked up by Alonzo McCoy, who returned it for his first career touchdown.
Senior captain Joe Ostman led CMU's defense with four sacks.
"I think the defensive line, the defense as a whole, played very hard today," Ostman said. "We knew that if we kept rushing hard we’d get after them and that’s what happened.”
The Chippewas finished the job against Ball State with a 33-yard rushing touchdown from redshirt freshman Kumehnnu Gwilly.
Central Michigan posted 455 yards of offense, while Ball State managed just 183 yards. The Chippewas logged 199 yards passing and 256 yards on the ground.
"I thought it was a good complementary (running and passing) game all the way around," Bonamego said.
The Chippewas stay on the road to take on rival Western Michigan (5-3, 3-1), who are coming off a 20-17 win over Eastern Michigan.
"Even though I really haven’t been around (the CMU-Western) rivalry, I kind of know what that vibe is," Morris said. "I’m excited to play in it. Really excited to go down there and play in it. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun.”
Kick-off is at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Waldo Stadium.
"We’ve got some time here to heal up a little bit, look at some things we’re doing, some self-scouting and hopefully get some guys back to 100 percent health," Bonamego said.