Homecoming superlatives: The best and worst of CMU football's last decade of homecoming games


Greg Cornwell | Staff Photographer

Senior running back Thomas Rawls dives for the end zone against Ohio at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, 2014.

Last season, there was no homecoming pageantry for Central Michigan football. 

Because fans weren't allowed in Kelly/Shorts Stadium, the Chippewas weren't able to welcome in students and athletes of past and present to celebrate the program's history. In 2021, however, fans and alumni will be welcomed in as CMU takes on Toledo at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16.

All-time, the Chippewas are 59-32-1 in homecoming games. The first was played in 1924 against Alma, while the most recent was a 42-28 win over New Mexico State in 2019. 

Over the last 10 homecoming games, CMU is 4-6. Here's a look at some of the best and worst from the last 10 installments in the Chippewas' homecoming matchups. 

Best win -- Oct. 3, 2015 over Northern Illinois (29-19)

After a grueling non-conference schedule that saw CMU fall to three Power Five opponents, the Chippewas started the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule strong against the Huskies. 

Under first-year coach John Bonamego, a CMU alum, the Chippewas beat an NIU team that had won the last five MAC West titles. This started a run of five wins in six games for the Chippewas, with only a loss to Western Michigan in between. 

Amidst nasty weather, Bonamego and company trailed at halftime, 10-3. Junior quarterback Cooper Rush would have none of it, however, as he led the offense to 23 third quarter points. Rush threw two third quarter touchdown passes, including a 23-yard strike to Jesse Kroll to put CMU in the lead for good. 

The Huskies made things interesting with a fourth quarter touchdown, but safety Kavon Frazier and defensive end Blake Serpa each forced fumbles on two late NIU drives to keep the game out of reach.

Worst loss -- Oct. 15, 2011 to Eastern Michigan (35-28)

It was a battle at Kelly/Shorts between two in-state rivals, with the road team coming out on top late. The Chippewas found themselves in a 15-point hole in the fourth quarter after the Eagles scored two touchdowns early in the period. 

The Chippewas didn't quit, however, as quarterback Ryan Radcliff led a riveting comeback. The senior hit Titus Davis for an 11-yard score, then Jerry Harris from two yards out to cut the lead to two. Radcliff and Davis connected for the two-point conversion, and with 1:09 left the game was tied. 

Alex Gillette wasted no time for EMU, however. The Eagles' quarterback slipped through the Chippewa defense and scored from 30 yards out with just 37 seconds remaining to give his team the lead. Radcliff would move his team down the field, but was picked off at EMU's four-yard line to end the game. 

Best team performance -- Oct. 12, 2019 against New Mexico State (42-28 win)

Little did many know this Chippewa team would be on their way to an appearance in the MAC championship game. Riding the high of a blowout win over EMU, first-year coach Jim McElwain led his team to one of its best offensive performances of the season against the Aggies. 

Two running backs rushed for over 100 yards, including then-sophomore Kobe Lewis' career-high 161. Lewis ripped off scoring runs of 57 and 20 yards, while senior Jonathan Ward contributed a 75-yard touchdown run of his own. 

Kalil Pimpleton opened the scoring with a 44-yard touchdown catch from Quinten Dormady and led the team in receiving with 59 yards on six catches. As a team, the Chippewas accounted for 486 yards of offense. 

Worst team performance -- Oct. 14, 2017 against Toledo (30-10 loss)

A Chippewa team that had yet to find its stride welcomed in the eventual MAC champions. This would be the Chippewas last loss for two months, yet would be the separation between the two squads for the eventual West Division crown. Toledo finished with one conference loss, while the Chippewas ended with two. 

As gallons of rain fell from the sky, the Chippewa offense stammered throughout the afternoon. The defense, meanwhile, couldn't stop the Rockets running game. Toledo had a pair of 100-yard rushers, led by Terry Swanson's 145 yards and two scores. 

Toledo outgained CMU 399 yards to 244, with 310 of those yards coming on the ground. The Chippewas punted on each of their first five drives, ultimately doing so eight times on the day. Quarterback Shane Morris, another Michigan transfer, threw two interceptions. 

CMU scored its only touchdown when Morris hit tight end Tyler Conklin from 26 yards out late in the fourth.