Football drops to 1-8 with loss to Akron

Alonzo McCoy looks at the scoreboard in the Central Michigan football game against Akron.

It has now been over 11 months since the Central Michigan football team has won a game against a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. 

Their most recent game, a 17-10 loss to Akron, is the fifth-straight loss for the Chippewas. They are now 1-8 on the season and do not have any conference wins. 

"We had a lot of opportunities today," CMU coach John Bonamego said. "Just came up short. I'm proud of the fact that, down 17-0 at halftime, we came out in the second half and worked our way back into the game. We found a way to move the ball."

Due to quarterback Tommy Lazzaro’s season-ending leg injury, redshirt sophomore Tony Poljan started at quarterback against Akron. 

Trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Chippewas made the contest interesting in the third quarter. An untroubled 28-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Tice put CMU on the board. Five minutes later, Poljan took a quarterback sneak into the end zone to cut Akron’s lead to seven points.

Facing a fourth-and-one just five yards from the end zone, Bonamego called for a handoff to Gwilly with 3:27 left in the game. The running back was stopped short behind the line of scrimmage, giving Akron the ball back on a turnover.

Poljan finished 19-of-37 for 169 yards and a fumble. He ran 20 times for 37 yards and a score. 

"At times good; at times not as good," Bonamego said of Poljan's performance. "The thing about Tony is you know you'll get his very best and there's zero quit in that kid. He found a way to make some plays with his legs. We're making progress."

CMU, desperate for quarterback success, lined up defensive back Darius Bracy under center. Wide receivers Devon Spalding and Brandon Childress also threw passes.  

"I'm not discouraged in any way, shape or form, or disappointed because I really think that we had a bunch of guys who really gave everything they had today," Bonamego said. "They'll just keep getting better."

The Zips scored first on a four-yard pass from quarterback Kato Nelson to tight end Newman Williams for a 7-0 lead. To open the second quarter, kicker Nick Gasser connected on a 43-yard field goal.

Nelson was 10-of-27 through the air against the Chippewas. He threw for 149 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 23 yards. 

With one minute remaining in the first half, Akron running back Van Edwards Jr. found a hole in CMU’s defense, escaping for a 20-yard touchdown. The score put Akron ahead 17-0 at halftime. 

Van Edwards finished the game with 20 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown. 

With 6:20 to left in the third, CMU safety Da’Quaun Jamison poked the ball free from quarterback Kato Nelson. It was recovered by cornerback Xavier Crawford, giving the Chippewas exceptional field position.

However, Tice missed a 23-yard field goal. On Akron’s ensuing offensive possession, Gasser missed a kicking opportunity of his own from 25 yards. 

Akron’s third quarter consisted of two fumbles, one punt and one field goal miss. There were five total turnovers – one by CMU, four by Akron.

Following Gwilly’s one-yard loss to bring up a turnover on downs, Akron burned three offensive players and punted. Despite possessing the ball with 2:57 remaining, Poljan was unable to move the chains when it mattered most.

Facing a fourth-and-19, Poljan’s pass, intended for receiver Julian Hicks, was incomplete. Akron took over on offense and ran out the clock to secure a 17-10 victory. 

Hicks was Poljan’s top receiver, making five receptions for 40 yards. 

The Chippewas travel to Ypsilanti for an in-state battle against Eastern Michigan at noon on Nov. 3. The Eagles control a 4-5 record and a 2-3 mark in the MAC. 

"I'm proud of the way they played, I'm proud of the effort, but we can't accept the loss," Bonamego said.