Penalties prove costly in CMU's loss to Penn State


Petoskey junior Joel Wilson battles a defender for a jump ball against Bucknell, Saturday, Sept. 17, at Kelly/Shorts stadium.

In front of the fourth largest crowd to ever witness a Central Michigan football game, the Chippewas (1-3) fought valiantly, but in the end, they couldn’t keep pace with Penn State (4-0), losing 33-14. 

Penalties stifled a handful of CMU’s offensive drives, as two touchdown grabs were negated by flags. The Chippewas finished the day with eight penalties resulting in 80 penalty yards. 

“You can literally call a penalty on any play,” said head coach Jim McElwain. “You know, as soon as you get down and ready to score. But, it is what it is when you’re on the road I guess. I guess I’ll get fined for saying it, but that’s the way it works.”

It was a tale of two halves, as CMU was down a single score going into halftime. 

The Chippewa offense came alive in the second quarter. The unit managed back-to-back drives of 45 and 67 yards, each resulting in a touchdown grab for freshman wideout Finn Hogan and senior tight end Joel Wilson, respectively.

“Just getting that first first-down," said wideout Carlos Carriere. “Once you get that first one, everything starts to just roll downhill. I think that’s what the focus was and needs to be starting out all football games, just getting that first one going, feeling good about it.”

Carriere posted career highs as a Chippewa in both receptions (11) and receiving yards (111). 

CMU's offense struggled to get going in the first quarter, as two drives ended in punts and another in an interception. 

Penn State took full advantage of the Chippewas’ inability to drive the ball down the field, by adding a touchdown in each of its first two drives. 

Playing from behind, sophomore play-caller Daniel Richardson managed to rally the Chippewas and evened up the score at 14 with three minutes until half. 

However, with 1:05 left to play in the half, Richardson gave the ball back to the Nittany Lions’ offense with his second of two interceptions on the day. Penn State responded by marching down the field and scoring in ten plays to end the first half.

Richardson threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns on 26-45 completions.

CMU’s defense managed to limit Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford to 217 passing yards, but he tossed three touchdowns when all was said and done. 

Despite Clifford’s performance, McElwain liked what he saw from his secondary.

“We’ve got some good young players back there,” McElwain said. “We knew we had good young players and yet sometimes, you don’t know until you get them tested. To see those guys get a little better (throughout) the game, it’s great to see. We’re gonna be alright back there.”

When the second half rolled around, the Chippewa offense fell silent. 

Penn State controlled the ground game, ending with 166 yards compared to 88 yards for the Chippewas. Despite that, CMU nearly matched Penn State’s total offensive output (403 yards), finishing with 363 total yards.

CMU will begin its Mid-American Conference slate in Toledo to face the Rockets next Saturday, October 1st at 3:30 p.m. ET.