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JaCorey Sullivan fights through minor injury, displays competitive nature


Central Michigan wide receiver JaCorey Sullivan, 11, side steps a Northern Illinois defender Nov. 2 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

JaCorey Sullivan went down with an injury in the third quarter of Central Michigan's 45-44 victory against Ball State.

Despite being shaken up, Sullivan didn't take a seat on the bench. Rather, the junior wide receiver remained in the game.

Facing second-and-10 on the game-winning drive on Nov. 16 at Scheumann Stadium, Sullivan caught a 15-yard pass from graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormady to put the Chippewas at the 11-yard line.

Three plays later, CMU was in the end zone for a 45-44 lead with 1:01 left in the Mid-American Conference West Division battle.

Sullivan finished with seven receptions for 85 yards, but he was also forced into a boot on his left foot. The injury held Sullivan out of practice Wednesday.

First-year coach Jim McElwain said it's nothing serious.

"JaCorey will be fine," McElwain clarified.

McElwain said Sullivan's competitive spirit was the main reason he knew the wide receiver wouldn't come out of the game – even though he had a minor injury in the third quarter.

"There was no holding him out," McElwain said. "JaCorey is a competitive guy."

After only catching 18 passes in the 2018 season, Sullivan has emerged as an offensive weapon for CMU in 2019 under McElwain. He has 42 receptions for 629 yards and three touchdowns. 

"He's become a trusted target," McElwain said. "You start to get a feel for a guy with the timing piece."

Sullivan has been most effective between the 40-yard lines, where he has hauled in 15 catches for 236 yards. He's done most of his touchdown work between the opponent's 39- and 20-yard lines – 179 yards and two scores on 12 receptions.

Even though Sullivan has only made one catch inside the red zone, the 6-foot-2, 216-pound receiver has been a key target for Dormady when attempting to push the ball across midfield. Between CMU's 20- and 39-yard line, Sullivan has 14 catches for 200 yards. 

Since the receiver's eight-reception, 126-yard and one-touchdown performance in a 38-20 win on Oct. 19 against Bowling Green at Doyt L. Perry Stadium, Sullivan has averaged 6.8 receptions for 103.3 yards per game. 

"He's had a really good back half of the season," McElwain said. "He's learned what it is to practice, what it is to dive in the game plan and put himself in the position to make those plays."

Other injury updates:

McElwain on cornerback Darius Bracy: "We're still waiting on Bracy. He's bitting at the bit to get out there, but he hasn't recovered enough for the training staff to allow him to get out. Time will tell. We've got some time on that."

McElwain on tight end Joel Wilson: "I don't see that happening. We were hoping, but every time he plants, he's unable to get in that cut. I wouldn't think Joel will be back."