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Three takeaways from Central Michigan's road win over Ball State

Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain walks to the sideline during an Oct. 29 practice at Bennett Track Field.

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Central Michigan walked into the locker room down 27-11 at halftime. 

The Chippewas had turned the ball over three times, allowed a quick touchdown before the break and came up 1-yard short on their half ending Hail Mary that was negated by a holding penalty anyway.

Led by first-year coach Jim McElwain, Central Michigan could've simply slogged out of the locker room, mailed it in, and lost by double digits. 

Instead, the team came out with vengeance. 

Senior graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormady marched the offense 80 yards in 12 plays, and senior running back Jonathan Ward capped the drive off with a 6-yard touchdown run. The score cut the Ball State lead to 10 and began a back and forth affair that saw both teams light up the scoreboard in the second half. 

The Chippewas trailed by as much as 17 in the game but used 35 second-half points to rally and secure a road win that kept their conference championship hopes alive Saturday night, defeating Ball State 45-44.

Here are three takeaways from Central Michigan's 45-44 win over Ball State:

No backing down

As mentioned earlier, the Chippewas could've mailed it in at the end of a miserable first half. However, under the senior leadership of Dormady, Ward and even backup quarterback Tommy Lazzaro, Central Michigan rallied. 

Ward finished the game with four touchdown runs, while Lazzaro added two. Dormady threw for 356 yards. Although Dormady did not throw for a score, he showed poise and did not turn the ball over in the second half. 

On multiple occasions, words were exchanged between players on both sides. Although the Chippewas were charged with multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, they were able to keep themselves in the game and eventually find a way to come out on top. 

This sense of discipline was foreign during last season's debacle, and Saturday's win is a prime example of just how far this team has come. 

It is just the second road win of the season, but it is without a doubt Central Michigan's most impressive. The Chippewas showed grit and toughness down the stretch and were able to overcome their struggles. 

Simply, they did not back down. 

Turnover bug bites again

Though the Chippewas were able to come out victorious, their prospects looked bleak early on. 

Sophomore running back Kobe Lewis fumbled the ball on back-to-back touches, including a kick return that he appeared to break away on. Dormady was also intercepted, and the Chippewas allowed 20 points off turnovers. 

Central Michigan continued to struggle to handle the ball on the road, having turned the ball over 11 times in six road contests. Although the Chippewas will not play another true road game this season, it is something that next year's returners can learn from and improve upon for the future. 

Poor tackling almost proves costly

McElwain had to pick his headset off the ground on multiple occasions throughout the first half. Time after time, junior running back Caleb Huntley broke away from tacklers for big gains.

The first-year coach launched his headset in disgust. 

Central Michigan allowed 499 yards of offense, with 321 of those yards coming before the half. The struggles in the defensive backfield were abundant, as freshman cornerbacks Kyron McKinnie-Harper and Montrae Braswell struggled to make tackles in the open field early on. 

Huntley ran for 115 yards, while his senior counterpart Walter Fletcher ran for 106. 

The Chippewas can hang their hat on the win, however, the defensive performance is one that will need to be improved. 

The Chippewas face a stiff test with Toledo coming to town on Nov. 29 and will need to shore up their tackling to compete with a Rockets program that has beaten them nine consecutive seasons.