CMU secures first MAC win
Central Michigan football senior Thomas Incoom has made a name for himself in the Mid-American Conference running down ball carriers off the edge.
But on Saturday, the defensive lineman found himself on the other side of that coin, with a 63 yard, game-winning fumble-recovery touchdown.
“Oh man, when I saw the ball, first thing I did is my eyes got wide,” Incoom said. “I got the (ball) in my hands and I was like, ‘I have to put the game on my back. Find a way to bring the victory home.’”
The Chippewas (2-5, 1-2) went on to beat Akron (1-6, 0-3) 28-21 on the road to secure the first MAC victory of the season.
Akron redshirt junior quarterback DJ Irons took off for a 47-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw just three plays into the game. Central Michigan football’s long-standing struggles defending mobile quarterbacks cropped back up, seemingly signaling a long day for the defense.
However, the defensive unit held strong and largely bottled up Irons on the ground for the rest of the afternoon. Irons finished the day with 12 total rushing yards. As a passer, he completed 25-of-38 passing attempts and registered one passing touchdown.
“Our D-Line really controlled the game and made it tough on them,” said Head Coach Jim McElwain. “We knew that we had to try to keep (Irons) contained. We obviously screwed up on the first drive — leave a guy in coverage and he goes running 80 yards downfield or whatever. But after that they settled in and shut him down pretty good.”
With CMU starting running back Lew Nichols sidelined, opportunity came knocking for sophomores Myles Bailey and Marion Lukes. Bailey was given the starting nod, but it was Lukes who emerged as the primary option of the tandem, with Bailey leaving the game due to injury in the first quarter.
Lukes finished the day with 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, to go along with 71 receiving yards and an additional receiving touchdown— all of which were career highs.
“I mean, I just followed everything the coaches taught me to do,” Lukes said. “I came in with a lot of knowledge about how to get things done. I saw my best friend Myles (Bailey) go down after knowing that Lew was down, I knew it was going to be between me and him. But watching him go down, I knew I had to carry a lot of the load on my back. I just did exactly what I had to do.
“Big shoutout to the line: They blocked (their) asses off today. I just followed them boys, I love them boys. I love the team, and I’d do it all over again.”
The Chippewas’ offense produced 199 total rushing yards, the most it’s had since Sept. 17, when it rushed for 287 yards against Bucknell. The Zips only managed 20 rushing yards on the day.
CMU’s defensive line lived in the backfield, taking down Akron signal-callers eight times. Irons was sacked seven times, while junior quarterback Jeff Undercuffler Jr. was sacked once in relief of Irons. Irons briefly exited the game during the second quarter with an apparent arm injury, but returned to start the second half.
Tied at 21, Akron started the drive with the ball at its own 48 and drove down CMU’s 32, looking to close out the game. On second and 10, Irons handed the ball to redshirt sophomore Clyde Price III, who dropped the handoff.
“It meant a lot,” Incoom said of his big play. “We saw a lot of guys (with) panic on their faces. As a defense we’re not going to stop playing till the last whistle, so we do whatever we got to to win the game.”
Incoom finished the day with 1.5 sacks, pushing his total to 6.5 on the season. He also ended with three total tackles.
CMU returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 22 as Bowling Green travels to Mount Pleasant. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.