Jonathan Ward makes strong return from injury in Central Michigan's loss
KALAMAZOO — Central Michigan's trip to Wisconsin in the second game of the season was one to forget in more ways than one.
While the game was awful for the Chippewas, they lost two of their biggest offensive threats: senior graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormady to an ankle injury and senior running back Jonathan Ward to a shoulder injury.
Both were sidelined for the Mid-American Conference opener against Akron and the matchup against Miami (Florida). David Moore has done well in replacing Dormady, throwing for over 300 yards twice since the latter was injured.
Kobe Lewis, Lew Nichols and the rest of the running back room have played decently in Ward's absence. With the rivalry matchup against Western Michigan last week, Ward returned to practice but was in a red jersey, signifying he could not be hit and would probably not play the game.
He went out the next day in a normal practice jersey and took hits on his right shoulder, the one he injured against the Badgers.
Jim McElwain originally said that he was "questionable to doubtful" for the rivalry game against Western Michigan last week.
"I was happy to see him take some reps and take some hits," the first-year coach said. "I know it means a lot to him, and it's great for our guys to see him working and trying to get back."
Ward suited up for what could have been the last time against the Broncos in Kalamazoo last Saturday (it is important to note, he has only appeared in three games and could still opt to take a redshirt for one more season).
CMU ended up losing the bitter rivalry game against WMU, 31-15, at Waldo Stadium but the Chippewas outgained the Broncos in total offense, 437-432.
Ward had 107 yards rushing, which was the total net rushing yardage the Chippewas finished the game with. Lewis ran for 4 yards, Moore lost 4 in total.
The senior from Kankakee, Illinois outgained WMU's leading rusher ran for more yardage than the Bronco's leading rusher, and second in the MAC, LeVante Bellamy.
Ward's contributions to the offense were huge for CMU, as he was able to gain those yards in big chunk runs with a long of 23, and turned the momentum in his team's favor.
"He ran hard, there's no doubt about that," McElwain said. "He ran behind his blockers and behind his pads well. He gave us a few nice chunk runs. Proud of him, he could've chosen to take another week off, but he came back, and I've got a lot of respect for that."
The toughness that Ward brought to the table was paramount for the Chippewas and could prove to be a leadership standard that can use going forward with their seven remaining games.