Chippewas secure Victory Cannon, beat Western 42-30
Although it took a jump-pass and two punt return touchdowns, Central Michigan overwhelmed Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium on Wednesday, winning 42-30 to secure its first rivalry win in three-years.
The Chippewas improve to 5-4 on the season and 3-2 in Mid-American Conference. Western falls to 5-4 and 2-3 in the MAC.
"More than anything, I'm just really happy for them because we haven't been playing great all year," said head coach Jim McElwain. "This is one, I think we were probably picked to get our tails beat again, and our guys figured out a way to win."
How it happened
The Chippewas came out of the gate hot, as redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Richardson found junior wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton on a 43-yard bomb. After another first down, the drive stalled. Marshall Meeder missed from 38 yards out, and the Chippewas came up empty.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby immediately went to work as Western strung together a 15-play 80-yard drive, lasting just under seven minutes. Sophomore running back Sean Tyler capped it off with an 11-yard run, putting the Broncos up 7-0.
Following the score, the Chippewas received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties which allowed WMU to kick from the CMU 35. The Broncos dialed up an onside kick and recovered it to send the offense back onto the field.
Eleby couldn't capitalize, fumbling on third-and-8. Junior safety Devonni Reed came out of a pile with the football, giving CMU control at its own 18.
As soon as CMU got the ball back, Richardson perfectly placed a pass to Pimpleton resulting in a 50-yard gain. Yet again, the drive stalled out and Meeder missed what would have been a 50-yard field goal.
Western opened the second quarter in control. Junior running back La'Darius Jefferson capped off a 12-play drive with a six-yard touchdown run to give WMU a two-score lead over the Chippewas.
The lead remained 14 for much of the second quarter, as the teams traded punts. This changed when the Broncos punted to Pimpleton with five minutes remaining in the half. After making a couple of moves, Pimpleton found his gap and accelerated down the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown, drawing the Chippewas within seven of WMU.
Western struggled to move the ball on its next drive and quickly gave it back to the Chippewas. On the first play of the drive, Lew Nichols III found a crease and carried the ball 61 yards to Western's 11. Two plays later, Richardson found Pimpleton crossing in the end zone to tie the score.
With the score tied and 23 seconds left til halftime, WMU punted the ball to the Chippewas. Backed against the end zone, Pimpleton took the 55-yard punt and turned on the burners.
Ninety-seven yards later he was standing in the end zone, putting CMU up 21-14.
Momentum slowed down following the break. WMU put the first points on the board with a 29-yard field goal, making the score 21-17. However, the Chippewas responded on the next drive with Nichols' eight-yard touchdown.
Eleby struck back with an extended drive capped off by a 31-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Corey Crooms, bringing the score to 28-24.
The Chippewas shifted their attack at the beginning of the fourth quarter, choosing to pound the ball on the ground. Nichols received four consecutive touches, the last a touchdown from five yards out, increasing the CMU lead to 11.
The Broncos' next possession resulted in a punt, giving the ball back to CMU on the WMU 37. Richardson's first pass of the drive fell incomplete, forcing McElwain to put the ball in Nichols' hands. Seven consecutive rushes brought the Chippewas into the red zone and a jump-pass from junior running back Darius Bracy to tight end Joel Wilson put CMU up 42-24.
Down big, the Broncos looked to exploit the Chippewas secondary. Following two first-downs, Eleby found Crooms for a 56-yard strike placing the ball on the CMU 10. Tyler took a hand-off up the middle and found the end zone to cut the lead to 12.
Central Michigan recovered the onside kick, and began to wind the clock down. After a turnover on downs, Troy Brown intercepted Eleby to seal the win.
Richardson finished the day 10 of 18 for 230 yards, with one touchdown.
Pimpleton was the Chippewas leading receiver with 115 yards on five catches, while totaling 166 yards via punt returns.
CMU's leading rusher was Nichols, who finished with 26 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chippewas face Kent State at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 10.