Quarterback Quinten Dormady shows leadership, recovers from early mistake to propel Chippewas
Quinten Dormady dropped back, saw his receiver and fired a pass across the middle of the field. His pass, intended for junior receiver JaCorey Sullivan, was off target and intercepted by Ball State's Jacob White.
Dormady stood still for a moment. His head froze with disbelief.
Another road game, another turnover.
The narrative continued to bury him: A sixth-year quarterback struggling to find his footing away from Kelly/Shorts Stadium. His struggles on the road had dug his team a hole in the past, and it threatened to do so again.
Sophomore running back Kobe Lewis fumbled on each of the Chippewas' ensuing two possessions, and the offense found itself taking the field down 20-3 with 2:11 to go in the first half.
Although he looked down and out, Dormady did what he's done so many times throughout his career.
He got back up.
A 21-yard completion to redshirt freshman Tyrone Scott paired with a roughing the passer penalty moved the Chippewas across midfield, and a 27-yard toss to junior tight end Tony Poljan brought the team to the doorstep of the end zone.
Senior running back Jonathan Ward scored the first of his four touchdowns on the night, and Dormady hit Pimpleton to convert for two and make the score 20-11.
Ball State marched down the field in no time and scored to make it 27-11 heading into the locker room. It was still just a two-score game, but the Chippewas had never come from behind to win over the course of the season.
That all changed Saturday night.
Dormady played his best football of the season in the second half. He finished the night 27 of 38 through the air for 356 yards. He did not throw a touchdown, and his most important contribution didn't show up in the post-game box score.
The college football veteran led this team.
He started the third quarter by going 3 for 3 on the opening drive, which ended with Ward's 6-yard touchdown run.
Every time the Chippewas needed a conversion to keep them in the game, Dormady found a playmaker for the necessary conversion. Every time the Cardinals punched the ball into the end zone, Dormady led the offense to deliver the counter punch.
In a blow-for-blow battle within the Mid-American Conference West Division, Dormady was the quarterback Central Michigan needed him to be.
It all culminated in the final drive.
Dormady and the offense met with offensive coordinator Charlie Frye while Ball State was marching toward a field goal that would give them a six-point advantage. Together, they scripted the entire upcoming series and knew that with a defensive stop they would have the opportunity to win the game.
"You didn't see any panic," said first-year coach Jim McElwain. "Credit to them."
Dormady was 4 for 6 on the final drive, making several key throws that put the offense in position to win the game. When his backup, senior Tommy Lazzaro, scored from 2 yards out to give the Chippewas the lead, Dormady threw his hands into the air.
"Big games are gonna come down to the last drive – who can come out and execute," Dormady said.
Junior linebacker Troy Brown intercepted a pass on fourth down, ending Ball State's final drive to secure the win.
Dormady was forced to kneel the ball three times due to Ball State's remaining time outs following the interception. However, the outcome was never in doubt.
Following the final kneel, Dormady turned and hugged Ward.
"There are ups and downs in the season," Dormady said following the game. "I've been through a lot myself, personally. To be here and get this win with this group of guys, I can't tell you what it means to me."
When Dormady came to Central Michigan, he planned on taking full advantage of his final season of college football. Through injuries, transfers, struggles on the road and a failed drug test from a fellow quarterback, the double graduate transfer has faced twists and turns on his journey.
With the win over Ball State, he's started to build his monument.
Dormady has at least two – maybe three – games to finish it.