Chippewas clip Cardinals 37-17

Running back Lew Nichols lll reaches for a touchdown during CMU's 54-30 win against Kent State Nov. 10 at the Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

The NCAA rushing leader now resides in Mount Pleasant.

Redshirt freshman Lew Nichols delivered a powerful encore to his career-best performance against Kent State with  more rushing yards and three touchdowns. The effort was a winning one and propelled the Chippewas (7-4, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) to their third straight win, beating Ball State (5-6, 3-4) 37-17. 

On the year, Nichols now has 1,516 rushing yards, tops among all of FBS Division I college football. 

The win gives CMU its first three-game win streak since 2019 and marks the first time it has won three road games in a season under Jim McElwain. 

"Heck of a team win," McElwain said. "The elements, wasn't a great day to do a bunch out there. I was really proud of the way our guys played." 

How it happened

Ball State marched down the field on its opening drive, going 75 yards in nine plays and scoring first with Carson Steele's nine-yard run. The Chippewas punted, but forced Ball State to do the same before quarterback Daniel Richardson hit JaCorey Sullivan to start a string of four touchdowns in five possessions. 

Nichols' first touchdown run of the night gave CMU a 14-7 lead. After Ball State tacked on a field goal, Chippewa receiver Remi Simmons caught a flip pass from Richardson and promptly lateraled to Kalil Pimpleton, who ran 43 yards to make it 21-10. 

The Cardinals were stopped on fourth-and-1 on their ensuing drive, as defensive tackle Jacques Bristol burst through the line and stuffed Steele. 

"That was a great moment, but I'll actually give the credit to my teammates," Bristol said. "The linebackers actually called out the play and that made me split the center and the guard and make a great play." 

Nichols took the ensuing first-down handoff 66 yards to the house. The Detroit native had his second touchdown and was over 100 yards rushing before halftime.  

Cardinal quarterback Drew Plitt hit receiver Yo'Heinz Tyler for a six-yard score to cut the Chippewa lead to 28-17. Richardson was bit by the turnover bug, throwing his second interception of the first half on the final drive of the opening 30 minutes. 

Nichols scored on the Chippewas' second drive of the second half, and a Marshall Meeder field goal made it 37-17 in the fourth quarter. The Chippewa defense pitched a second-half shutout, allowing just 57 total yards in the final two quarters.

"Most proud of our defense," McElwain said. "We did a great job at halftime of taking the edge run away. We affected the passer, and he's a really good quarterback." 

Key stats

Nichols went over 150 yards for the fourth straight game and notched over 200 for the second straight. He sits atop the rushing yard leaderboard nationally, with Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III in second with 1,473. 

Richardson became the first player of freshman status to throw 20-plus touchdown passes since Dan LeFevour in 2006. He finished 20-of-25 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Up next

The Chippewas return home for their season finale, hosting Eastern Michigan (7-4) at noon Nov. 26.