‘We know we’re a good team:’ CMU football loses to No. 9 Notre Dame on the road

Senior offensive lineman Deiyantei Powell-Woods, left, and junior offensive lineman Brayden Swartout celebrate after redshirt sophomore Jase Bauer, center, scored a touchdown during a game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Sept. 16 at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana. Bauer scored the second touchdown of the game for CMU.

In his first start of the season and 20 seconds left in the first half, quarterback Jase Bauer rushed one yard for a Central Michigan touchdown to bring the gap within seven heading into the half against No.9 Notre Dame. 

“I didn't want to leave any time on the clock,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “... The way we did it, we controlled that drive, and that was good.”

History was made Saturday as the Chippewas squared off against the Fighting Irish for the first time with a sold-out crowd of over 75,000. With the energy of the sold-out crowd, Notre Dame was able to pull away in the second half, defeating CMU 41-17. 

“It's pretty awesome, great experience for our players,” McElwain said. “But to me, more importantly, a great experience for this university. And I've got a lot of responsibility and a lot of it is that'll take care of our players, to take care of our university and in our community.” 

Although the Chippewas lost, its running game held up with juniors Myles Bailey and Marion Lukes combining for over 100 yards and Bauer tacking on 16 yards. 

“I mean it starts with the guys up front,” Bailey said. “... I told them every day I praise them, I got your back and you got mine, so it starts up there. I just think (Notre Dame) is a regular team you know. We can run the ball on any team in the country really, whether they are ranked number one, ranked number nine, or not ranked at all.” 

Juniors Kyle Moretti and Donte Kent each recorded four tackles for the Chippewas. Moretti had two tackles that resulted in a loss of four. 

“I think at the end of the day, just the execution,” Moretti said. “First half we did really good, but Coach Mac and the whole team, we made an emphasis of play four quarters, and I don’t think we did that today.” 

Notre Dame’s quarterback and Heisman hopeful Sam Hartman was hard to stop. Hartman passed for 330 yards with three touchdowns.

Hartman showed why he is in the Heisman conversation early in the first quarter with a 75-yard deep shot to Tobias Merriweather, adding a quick seven points for the Fighting Irish. 

“Those guys got not only really shiny helmets, but the guys in those shiny helmets are some of the best players in all of college football,” McElwain said. “And you know, that is what it is, our guys went out there and played their tails off.”

However, the Chippewas added a touchdown of their own leveling the score at seven following a 6-yard touchdown run from Bailey. Prior to the touchdown, CMU found its stride on offense, putting together a drive of six plays tallying 65 yards. 

CMU offensive lineman Deiyantei Powell-Woods played in his first game of the season after coming back from injury. 

“It was awesome having Dub back,” Bauer said. “He's been a big part of our offense, and that guy is just a stud. You know, he's out there calling out blitzes for me, before we were even setting up.”

After Notre Dame added another touchdown to go up two possessions near the end of the first quarter, the Chippewas put together an almost four-minute drive of nine plays for 83 yards. CMU topped the drive off by a rushing touchdown from Bauer to go into the half down seven. 

“I love these guys in there, we battled our tails off,” Bauer said. “I love every single dude in that locker room. Just came up a little short. I thought we played really well in the first half, just came out in the second half, a little dead. I think there's lots of good things we can learn from but overall, it’s truly a blessing.”

Notre Dame seemed to find its rhythm, adding ten points in the third quarter with a touchdown and a 50-yard field goal by kicker Spencer Schrader. 

CMU recorded its last points of the game in the third with a 23-yard field goal by Tristan Mattson. 

The Irish added another 31-yard field goal from Schrader and one last touchdown from Hartman before Steve Angeli took over in the final minutes. 

“We're playing a lot harder than we did a year ago, and I'm talking every snap,” McElwain said. “And that's something that we talked about a lot in the offseason, and these guys are taking pride in. You know, I've talked about the physical effort, we've got to continue to work, the mental effort that we don't get ourselves in those situations to give up the big plays.”

The Chippewas will go back on the road as they travel to Mobile, Alabama to face South Alabama on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

“Chippewa Nation man, we travel,” McElwain said. “I think it's something that makes us real proud. And you know what, I hope they're proud of these kids.”