Football brawls with Toledo in loss, finishes season 1-11
A new Central Michigan football record has been set – the worst finish in program history.
The Chippewas finished the 2018 season with a 1-11 overall and 0-8 Mid-American Conference mark. Head coach John Bonamego’s group logged the most losses ever for a CMU football team, dating back to its first season in 1896.
History was made in blowout fashion.
CMU was beaten and broken down by Toledo, 51-13, on Nov. 23 at Glass Bowl Stadium. The Rockets (7-5, 5-3 MAC) were led by redshirt freshman running back Bryant Koback's 124-yard, two-touchdown performance.
By halftime, CMU punted on all nine of its offensive possessions, and the team had just 62 total yards. Starting redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Hergott was benched at halftime after going 6-of-19 for 39 yards.
"Terrible offensive performance," Bonamego said. "Penalties were completely, totally unacceptable. It was pretty much a loss overall. All the way across the board. This one wasn't (winnable). We got run out of the stadium."
To open the second half, Bonamego went with true freshman quarterback George Pearson. On the first play of his CMU career, the 6-foot-1, 213-pound signal caller threw a pick-six – giving Toledo a 31-0 lead.
With 7:37 remaining in the third quarter, a brawl was started on the field due to frustration from the Chippewas. The fight forced every player on CMU’s roster to take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Redshirt freshman George Douglass and running back Kobe Lewis were ejected from the contest.
Another brawl occurred with 6:40 left in the game on Toledo’s punt. CMU freshman Rolliann Sturkey threw his opponent to the ground and began fighting. The referees ejected him from the game.
Regarding his job security, Bonamego said the situation is not for him to decide.
"I'm not a quitter," Bonamego said. "I'd like to have a chance to finish what I started. We've got a lot of young players, but clearly the season was not good enough. There isn't a person on the planet that's more disappointed than I am."
When asked if Bonamego would ever think to leave CMU, he claimed quitting is different than being asked to depart.
"Asking me right now, no," Bonamego said. "Again, I've never quit anything in my life. Quitting and being asked to leave are two different things. I don't know if I'm in the right mind-frame to answer that question at this point in time."
Running back Bryant Koback tacked on his second touchdown, nearly seven minutes following Jameson Vest’s field goal, to give the Rockets a 24-0 edge with 7:37 to play in the first half.
When Bonamego pulled Hergott from the game, Pearson’s rookie mistake allowed Tyler Taafe to convert on a 21-yard interception touchdown return. Eli Peters’ first score of the game was a 44-yard touchdown strike to Jon’Vea Johnson for a 37-0 margin with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Even though the game was well out of hand, Toledo continued to punish the Chippewas. Less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, Shakir Seymore broke loose for a 12-yard score to go up 44-0.
Toledo's rushing attack logged 49 carries for 293 yards and five scores between eight ball carriers. Individually, Seymour and Thompkins went for 66 and 51 yards, respectively.
The Chippewas finally found the board as Toledo third-string quarterback Cross Wilkinson fumbled the football into the hands of CMU defensive end Mike Danna. The junior returned it to the end zone for a scoop-and-score. CMU's point-after-attempt failed.
Sophomore running back Nevone McCrimmon tacked on another score for a 51-6 Rockets advantage. The touchdown run was McCrimmon's only carry of the game.
Compared to 11 three-and-outs for CMU, the same happened to Toledo just once. Toledo gained 478 yards of offense in comparison to CMU's 181. The Chippewas were 2-for-17 on third down and had 16 penalties for 132 yards.
Pearson finished 12-of-24 for 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He threw his first career score on a 12-yard strike to Jack Combs with 42 seconds remaining. CMU's run game was led by Romello Ross' seven carries for 27 yards.
"We got George Pearson a whole half of a college football game," Bonamego said. "That's as important as anything he's gotten to this point."