A decade of misery: Reliving Central Michigan's nine consecutive losses to Toledo
Central Michigan locked up a Mid-American Conference West Division title on Nov. 11, 2009.
Their opponent that night was the Toledo Rockets. In that Veteran’s Day contest, senior quarterback Dan LeFevour was 29 of 36 for 341 yards and two touchdowns. LeFevour ran for four more touchdowns that night and cemented his status as MAC Offensive Player of the Year in the 56-28 victory.
That historic night marks the most recent Chippewa victory over the Rockets.
Since then, the Chippewas are 0-9 against the Rockets and have been outscored 356-191. Only one of the contests has been decided by single digits, and in that span, the Rockets have posted four nine-win seasons and two double-digit win seasons. They’ve also claimed a MAC West title, a feat that has eluded the Chippewas in that timespan.
Central Michigan takes on Toledo at noon Friday and will clinch its first MAC West title since 2009 with a victory.
Here’s a rundown on how each of the past nine contests between these two schools has played out:
2010: Toledo 42, Central Michigan 31
The Rockets started fast in this contest, scoring on each of their first two possessions of the game. Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens hit receiver Kenny Stafford for a 75-yard touchdown early, and Eric Page followed Chippewa running back Carl Volny’s 1-yard score with a 99-yard kick return touchdown.
The Rockets began pulling away in the second quarter, as Owens hit Page for a pair of touchdowns to take a 28-14 lead into halftime. After Central Michigan kicker David Harman knocked a 33-yard field goal through the uprights, Page continued his record day with his second kick return touchdown of the game to extend Toledo’s lead to 35-17.
Page did the number once again on the Chippewas early in the fourth quarter, firing a 28-yard strike to his quarterback Owens to make the score 42-24. A late Chippewa touchdown from running back Zurlon Tipton brought the game to a 42-31 final.
In the contest, Chippewa quarterback Ryan Radcliff threw for 156 yards and was intercepted once. Volny was the leading rusher with just 41 yards on the ground while Kito Poblah had 77 yards receiving. The Chippewas finished the season 3-9, while the Rockets finished 8-5.
2011: Toledo 44, Central Michigan 17
Toledo once again wasted no time jumping out to an early lead, scoring on a 26-yard run by running back Adonis Thomas. However, this time the Chippewas were able to hang in for the majority of the first half. Radcliff hit Titus Davis for a touchdown, and it was a one-score game before Toledo kicker Jeremiah Detmer hit a 50-yarder as time expired to send the Rockets into the locker room up 20-10.
Toledo scored the first 17 points of the second half, sandwiching a field goal between two long touchdowns passes from Owens to stretch its lead to 37-10. Radcliff and Davis hooked up for another score, but it was all Rockets in the second half.
Radcliff had a better day in his second start against the Rockets, throwing for two touchdowns and 233 yards. Paris Cotton was the leading rusher, mustering 78 yards while Davis had 64 yards receiving. Page, who terrorized the Chippewas in their previous matchup, had 96 yards receiving.
This was the final regular season game for both teams, meaning it was the ninth loss of the year for the Chippewas. It marked their second consecutive 3-9 season under coach Dan Enos. Toledo finished 9-4.
2012: Toledo 50, Central Michigan 35
In this contest, it was the Chippewas who got off to a hot start. Radcliff threw a pair of second quarter touchdowns and propelled his squad to a 21-10 edge with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. However, a late touchdown run by Owens made it a one score game going into the break.
Toledo came out of the second half with 14 unanswered to take a double-digit lead. The Chippewas responded with a touchdown from Radcliff to Williams to make it 31-28 heading into the fourth.
However, crunch time was once again all Rockets.
Toledo scored 19 fourth quarter points to pull away from the Chippewas, scoring twice on Radcliff interceptions to turn the game into a blowout. Radcliff was able to connect with Williams late in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.
Radcliff had a good day against the Rocket defense, throwing for four touchdowns. However, the Chippewas had just one rusher with double-digit rushing yards in Tipton, and the Chippewas were unable to stay in the game while being so one dimensional.
Central Michigan had its first winning season since the 2009 campaign in 2012, finishing 7-6, while Toledo finished 9-4.
2013: Toledo 38, Central Michigan 17
This matchup was the first conference contest for both squads. Cooper Rush made his second career start and threw an early touchdown to Connor Odykirk to tie the game 7-7, but Toledo delivered two consecutive touchdowns to make the score 21-7.
The Chippewas got a 1-yard score from Saylor Lavallii, but Toledo pulled away late with a touchdown run by Damion Jones-Moore.
Rush threw for 214 yards on 14 completions, but a pair of interceptions plagued his stat line. Both teams were able to get going early and often in the run game, as Lavallii ran for 144 yards while Rocket running back David Fluellen ran for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
Owens, who started in four games against CMU, threw for 197 yards in his final contest against the Chippewas.
Central Michigan ended up finishing the season 6-6. Toledo finished 7-5.
2014: Toledo 42, Central Michigan 28
Central Michigan took a quick lead in this one, jumping to a 7-3 advantage on a 3-yard pass from Rush to Jesse Kroll.
Toledo was able to rally back and eventually take a 13-point lead before the half on a touchdown pass from Logan Woodside to Alonzo Russell, the first of two connections between these two.
Chippewa running back Thomas Rawls, a transfer from Michigan, ran for two second half touchdowns. The second score, a 6-yard scamper, cut the Rocket lead to just six, but a 12-yard touchdown run by Woodside was the nail in the coffin, and a two-point conversion made it 42-28 with three minutes remaining.
Rush threw for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Rawls ran for just 65 yards. Davis, who is the all-time leader in receiving yards for the Chippewas, had 128 yards on just six catches.
The Chippewas finished the year at 7-6; the Rockets finished 9-4.
2015: Toledo 28, Central Michigan 23
The Rockets wasted no time jumping all over the Chippewas, getting out to a 21-0 advantage on the strength of two Phillip Ely touchdown passes and a 41-yard run by Kareem Hunt.
Central Michigan seemed to be in trouble early.
However, the Chippewas got on the board with a 1-yard fumble recovery by defensive lineman Derek Edwards to start a run of 17 consecutive points. A touchdown pass from Rush to Corey Willis made it 21-17, but Hunt answered with a 3-yard run to push the Rockets’ lead to 11 points and effectively icing the game.
Rush threw 52 passes in this contest, completing 33 of them for 354 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kroll was the leading receiver, snagging seven passes for 130 yards. Hunt led the Rockets in rushing with 113 yards.
The Chippewas finished 7-6 once again while the Rockets – loaded with NFL talents such as Hunt and tight end Michael Roberts – finished the season 10-2 and were ranked as high as No. 19 in the AP Top 25 poll.
2016: Toledo 31, Central Michigan 17
Another standout individual performance led the Rockets past the Chippewas. Quarterback Woodside connected with receiver Cody Thompson for four scores, and the Chippewas were unable to rally.
Cooper Rush scored on a 20-yard score to cut the lead to 17-7, and following two Woodside to Thompson connections, Rush found tight end Tyler Conklin in the end zone to cut the lead to 31-17. However, the rally was not to be as the Rockets were able to run out the rest of the clock.
The Chippewas were once again unable to get a rusher above 100 yards, as their leading rusher, Devon Spalding, was able to muster only 65 yards on 18 carries. Defensively, they were able to hold Hunt and fellow running back Terry Swanson to under 100 yards.
Central Michigan finished 6-7. Toledo finished 9-4.
2017: Toledo 30, Central Michigan 10
On a rainy afternoon in Mount Pleasant, it was the Toledo running game that dominated this contest. Although Hunt graduated, Swanson wasted no time making his presence felt. A 48-yard touchdown from Swanson got the Rockets going, and his 22-yarder right before the half made it 17-0 in favor of the Rockets.
Central Michigan got a 23-yard field goal from kicker Michael Armstrong in an otherwise scoreless third quarter, but Woodside and Shakif Seymour each ran for a score in the fourth to make it 30-3 in favor of the Rockets before a late touchdown pass from Michigan transfer Shane Morris to Conklin.
The conditions certainly had an effect on this game, as Morris and Woodside combined to complete just 27 of 55 pass attempts. The difference in this one was Toledo’s ability to run the ball, as the Rockets ran it all over the Chippewas en route to 310 yards on the ground.
The Chippewas got a metaphorical boost from this game, as this would be their last regular season loss. The Chippewas reeled off five consecutive wins before a loss in the Idaho Potato Bowl to finish the year 8-5 while Toledo had a phenomenal season, finishing 11-3 and winning the MAC championship game with a 42-28 triumph over Akron.
2018: Toledo 51, Central Michigan 13
Central Michigan was never really in this one, and it proved to be a fitting end to a disastrous season. Austin Hergott started the game at quarterback but was benched at halftime in favor of true freshman George Pearson with the team down 24-0.
Pearson’s first pass slipped out of his hand and was returned 21 yards to the end zone. Central Michigan got its only scores on a 53-yard scoop-and-score from defensive end Mike Danna and a late touchdown pass from Pearson to Jack Combs.
The miserable end to a miserable season crashed to rock bottom when the benches emptied on two separate occasions. Receiver JaCorey Sullivan was among other Chippewas ejected from the game.
The loss gave the Chippewas a program-worst 1-11 record on the season, leading to the firing of coach John Bonamego. Toledo finished 7-6 on the year.
2019: Central Michigan's chance
Central Michigan is presented with an opportunity to right all these wrongs, a chance to pick up all the pieces that have been scattered throughout this decade long stretch, whether it be special teams woes in 2010 or last season’s pair of brawls.
All they have to do is slay the psychological dragon.