Football wallops Eastern Michigan, claims Michigan MAC trophy

Detroit sophomore Tyrece Woods Jr. celebrates after sacking the quarterback, Friday, Nov. 26.

As snow and snot flew in Charlestown, Ind. freshman running back Marion Lukes flew 100 yards for a kick return touchdown to start the second half.

Central Michigan never looked back, knocking off Eastern Michigan 31-10 on Friday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

"It was a dominant win, but that's the expectation," said head coach Jim McElwain. "That's what our guys believe they should do. For the most part we went out and did it."

The win not only finishes the Chippewas at 8-4 overall and 6-2 in Mid-American Conference action, but clinches the Michigan MAC Trophy for the first time since 2017. The win is also CMU’s third-straight win over EMU (7-5, 4-4) and its eighth win in the last 10 meetings.

"We've been looking at this game for a year. It was an iffy game last year, so we had this one circled on our schedule," said Muskegon senior wide receiver JaCorey Sullivan. "It was good to come out with my fellow seniors and teammates to come out here and get a (win)."

How it Happened

After feeling out each other to start the game, CMU struck first behind a 10 play, 65-yard drive featuring multiple pancake blocks from Steinbrunn, Austria junior left tackle Bernhard Raimann to give the Chippewas a 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a nine-yard touchdown reception for Sullivan’s ninth receiving score of the season. 

After both teams traded turnovers, the Eagles were forced to punt from their own 21-yard line. Punter Jake Julien obliterated a 78-yard boot to pin the Chippewas at their own one-yard line. 

A three-and-out gave the Eagles a short field that resulted in a field goal to make the score 7-3 with 7:20 remaining in the first half. The Chippewas would eat the rest of the clock throughout a 15-play drive that ended with a Eaton Rapids freshman kicker Marshall Meeder field goal to give CMU a seven-point advantage at the half. 

Lukes started the second half with the longest touchdown run in Kelly/Shorts Stadium, the longest CMU touchdown scored since 1950 and the first CMU kick return for a touchdown since 2013 against EMU the day after Thanksgiving. The Eagles responded with a nine play, 65 yard drive to pull back within seven points with 9:08 left in the third quarter. 

After denying the Eagles on third-and-2, the Chippewas widened the gap with an 11 play, 80-yard drive capped by a 26-yard dart from Miami quarterback Daniel Richardson to Sullivan for the latter’s 10th receiving touchdown of the season. The score placed the Muskegon senior tied at second for the single-season program record with Bryan Anderson. 

The ensuing Eagles drive resulted in a pair of CMU sacks and a fourth-and-11 opportunity for the Eagles. Oakpark, Ill. Junior Rolliann Sturkey broke up Ben Bryant’s pass attempt to force a crucial turnover on downs with 9:12 remaining. Detroit redshirt freshman Lew Nichols III called game by scoring from 33 yards out with 2:55 left to put CMU up 31-10. 

Key performers

Sullivan finished with four receptions for 46 yards and a pair of scores. 

Nichols finished with 194 yards on 42 carries with a touchdown. Friday’s game marked the seventh-straight game with at least 135 rushing yards and moved to second all-time in single-season rushing yards at 1,710. He trails only Brian Pruitt’s 1,890 in 1994. 

Key Stats

CMU held the Eagles to two-of-12 on third down opportunities and denied EMU on all five fourth-down attempts. The Chippewas also finished with seven sacks and held the Eagles to only five yards rushing.

"We were collapsing the pocket and applying pressure," said Birmingham senior defensive end Troy Hairston II. "Everybody did their job. They came out and really showed up on senior day."