CMU football drops conference opener to Toledo

A 42-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Marshall Meeder on Central Michigan football's opening drive seemed to signal an incoming productive day from the Chippewas’ offense. 

Quickly, however, Toledo (3-2, 1-0) answered with its own field goal on the following drive and eventually put to rest CMU's (1-4, 0-1) bid to emerge victorious, winning 38-17 behind a high-powered offensive attack. 

“Really disappointed,” said head coach Jim McElwain. “I mean, still think we have a pretty decent football team, but just haven’t been able to put it all together.”

With Toledo deferring its decision upon winning the opening coin toss, the Chippewas went to work first, going on a 10-play, 37-yard drive capped off by the field goal from Meeder. 

Aside from Meeder's field goal, CMU’s offense would not register another scoring drive in the first half. All told, CMU totaled 54 yards and did not have a single drive longer than 2:03 seconds in the first 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, Toledo’s offense scored 31 of its 38 points during the opening half, and outgained the Chippewas in total offense, while going 4-for-4 in the red zone. 

Throughout the game, CMU’s defensive unit struggled with Toledo’s production on the ground. The Rockets ended with 261 rushing yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Sophomore running back Jacquez Stewart led the way with 122 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

“They did a good job on the inside gutting us," McElwain said. "You know you go back to work, you look at it, and keep playing your ass off.”

Former CMU commit and Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn had 84 rushing yards on 12 attempts to go along with 186 passing yards and two touchdowns. 

The Chippewas’ offense found some life coming out of the locker room in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t make up the ground it lost in the previous half.

“I was proud of the way they came out of halftime,” McElwain said. “But we knew we had to contain (Finn) going in. He hurt us when he had to.”

CMU’s offensive attack was led by sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson, who completed 25 of his 46 passing attempts for 252 yards and two touchdowns.

Six minutes into the second half, Richardson connected with senior wideout Noah Koenigsknecht on a 47-yard touchdown strike. Koenigsknecht also hauled in a two-point conversion on the following play to bring CMU within 20 points. 

The Chippewas eventually cut the lead to 14 following a touchdown from junior tight end Joel Wilson, but couldn’t bring it any closer during their second-half rally.

CMU will return to action against Ball State on Saturday, Oct. 8 when the Cardinals travel to Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.