Chippewas lose 10th game of season for worst mark in program history
Bowling Green defensive end Karl Brooks poked the ball free from Central Michigan running back Romello Ross, and his teammate, Kyle Junior, picked it up for a one-yard scoop and score.
Junior’s defensive score put the nail in the coffin, handing the Chippewas (1-10, 0-7 MAC) their first 10 loss season in program history, which dates back to 1896.
Led by coach John Bonamego, CMU was unable to keep up with the Falcons (2-8, 1-5 MAC) in a 24-13 loss on Nov. 10 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
"Obviously disappointed with the loss," Bonamego said. "I apologize to our seniors. Very, very, very disappointed."
The Chippewas have not won against a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision opponent in 351 days, while the Falcons snapped a 375-day FBS losing streak of their own with the 11-point victory on Saturday.
"My job is on the line every day, every week, every year," Bonamego said after the loss regarding his job status.
Early in the contest, CMU’s momentum stemmed from the successes of redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Hergott, who earned his first career start against the Falcons.
For his first career passing score, Hergott dropped back in the pocket, set his feet, threw the ball to the corner of the end zone and took a massive blow.
Upon arising from the ground, Hergott tossed his arms up in celebration. The ball was hauled in by redshirt freshman receiver Julian Hicks for a 30-yard touchdown, giving Central Michigan a 13-0 lead just before halftime.
But the Falcons quickly dissolved their deficit once the second half began.
Through 109 seconds of play near the start of the second half, Bowling Green surged for a 14-13 edge on a two-yard completion from quarterback Jarret Doege to tight end Dorian Hendrix. The touchdown was set up by a recovered pooch kick off the leg of kicker Nate Needham.
"After a very good first half, we let them off the hook," Bonamego said. "Then, we weren't able to get anything going offensively. Everyone deserves better."
Doege controlled his team’s offense, completing 13-of-23 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. His top receiver, Scott Miller, did not score but produced 73 yards against CMU’s secondary with ease.
Bowling Green found the end zone on the drive prior thanks to a converted fake punt, which kept the series alive.
Facing a 4th-and-two from its own 47-yard line, Bowling Green tight end Dorian Hendrix took a direct snap and went 24 yards for a first down at the CMU 29. On the ensuing play, running back Andrew Clair broke loose for a 29-yard score, cutting the Falcons’ deficit to six points.
"Special teams were a big disappointment," CMU's fourth-year coach added. "The fake punt extended a drive and led to a score. We missed a tackle on that play, and they executed."
Needham’s 20-yard field goal put the Falcons up by four points with 5:15 remaining in the third, and Junior’s scoop and score sealed the deal at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Hergott finished 11-of-21 through the air for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Bonamego said throughout the week both Hergott and fellow quarterback Tony Poljan would play. Instead, it was all Hergott in the loss.
"Some good, some bad," Bonamego said of Hergott's performance. "We are just trying to compete and win a game. The experience that Austin is getting is very good. He's shown a lot of poise and made some good plays."
For the first time in the 2018 season, junior running back Jonathan Ward found the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 7:29 remaining in the first half. A year ago, he accumulated nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns.
Following a 13-yard performance, Ward now has 76 carries for 212 yards and one touchdown this season.
Bowling Green’s only first half opportunity came on a 42-yard field goal try from Nate Needham, but his kick was blocked by Sean Bunting.
The Chippewas do not play next weekend due to a bye but return on Nov. 23 in a road matchup against Toledo for the final game of the season.