Chippewas outlast Rockets 26-23 in overtime

Miami freshman Daniel Richardson tosses a pass forward against Toledo, Saturday, Oct. 16.

Facing third-and-15 in overtime, Central Michigan needed a stop more than ever.

Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn dropped back to pass. Thomas Incoom and Tico Brown made themselves welcome in the Rockets backfield for the Chippewas seventh sack of the game. Rockets’ kicker Thomas Cluckey missed his third field goal of the game the very next play to seal CMU’s 26-23 Homecoming victory Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

The Chippewas are now 4-3 overall and are 2-1 in Mid-American Conference play. Toledo is now 3-4 overall and 1-2 in MAC play.

How it Happened

The Chippewas opened their MAC home opener with a 14 play, 80 yard drive that was capped off by Daniel Richardson finding Dallas Dixon for the Phoenix native’s sixth receiving score of the year and an early 7-0 lead. 

The Rockets were stuffed on a third-and-3 rushing attempt, but CMU defensive lineman Jaques Bristol was flagged for taunting, prolonging the Rocket’s first offensive possession. Toledo failed to convert on third-and-10. To make matters worse for the Rockets and Cluckey’s 48-yard field goal sailed wide right.

The Chippewas ensuing drive stalled out behind a third down holding penalty on junior left tackle Bernard Raimann. Redshirt freshman punter Luke Elzinga would use his left leg to pin the Rockets at their own one yard line. The Rocket’s faced third-and-9 and dialed up a screen pass that was immediately sniffed out by freshman linebacker Justin Whiteside to keep the field slanted in CMU’s favor. 

Bailey Flint’s punt would travel only 20 yards to give the Chippewas prime field position. Facing third-and-goal from Toledo’s six yard line, Richardson connected with redshirt freshman running back Lew Nichols III, who stretched the ball across the goal line for his second receiving score of the year and a 14-0 Chippewa lead. 

Both teams traded offensive jabs that failed to impact the game until Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn's fourth-and-7 pass was dropped by CMU’s Devonni Reed in the endzone for a turnover on downs. 

Pinned at its own nine yard line with 1:12 left in the first half, CMU found paydirt behind a 34-yard rush from Nichols and a 17-yard strike from Richardson to Kalil Pimpleton to set up a 46-yard field goal from Marshall Meeder. The Eaton Rapids native buried the ball in between the uprights for a 17-3 halftime lead. 

Toledo’s Bryce Mitchell ran the opening kick to CMU’s 19-yard line for the Rockets’ best field position of the day. Toledo marched to CMU’s 3-yard line, but a group of CMU pass rushers brought down Finn in the backfield. Cluckey missed from 31 yards out to come up empty handed to start the second half. 

Richardson connected with Pimpleton for a 42-yard pass on the first play to set up a 51-yard Meeder to take a 20-3 lead. The Rockets then seized momentum of the game with a 10-0 run with a rushing touchdown from Finn to come within a touchdown of CMU. 

Facing second-and-10, Richardson found Pimpleton for a 32-yard gain to kickstart the Chippewas' then stagnant offense. Nichols was stuffed on third-and-1, but Meeder nailed a 44-yarder for his third made field goal of the game for a 23-13 lead. 

Cluckey would nail a 50-yard attempt with 4:34 remaining. Finn would scamper from 18 yards off a speed option to tie the game 23-23. CMU failed to earn a first down on its final possession of regulation. 

After a nine yard run on first-and-10, CMU’s offense failed to get one more yard and settled for a Meeder 38-yard field goal. 

Toledo’s first play resulted in a false start penalty to back the Rockets back to the 30-yard line. On third-and-12 the CMU defensive line earned its seventh sack of the game to force a 51-yard game tying field goal that fell short and to the left. 

Key Stats

CMU finished with a season-best seven sacks. 

Key Performers

Richardson finished 20-of-34 with 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Nichols netted 134 rushing yards on 29 carries. 

Finn tallied 251 total yards and two touchdowns.

Incoom finished with two sacks. 

What’s Next

The Chippewas will stay at Kelly/Shorts for a noon matchup with Northern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 23.