CMU football defeats New Hampshire in final second thriller
In his first field goal attempt of his college career, Tristan Mattson lined up 47-yards away from winning the game in Central Michigan football's home opener on Saturday.
Just three minutes after New Hampshire tied the game at 42, Mattson the redshirt junior transfer from Arkansas State made his first ever field goal in a game to give the Chippewas a 45-42 win.
“It's great to get a win,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “No matter what it is, it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's great to get a win ... you know, at the end of the day, figuring out a way to win and was good to hit that kick with a new kicker.”
Although the game came down to the final four seconds, the Chippewas were up by two touchdowns with nine minutes remaining in the contest after quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. connected with junior wide receiver Jesse Prewitt in a thrilling middle pass completion that covered 32 yards to put CMU up 42-28.
UNH managed to secure a 2-yard touchdown run courtesy of senior running back Dylan Laube in the next drive. Soon after, Laube embarked on an astonishing 71-yard catch-and-run play, executed with just over three minutes remaining, resulting in both teams notched at 42.
“Hats off to that team that we played today,” McElwain said. “I mean, (they) didn't do anything we didn't expect, and they got the ball (Laube), and he made us look foolish.”
The Wildcats utilized Laube as often as they could as he set the UNH single game receiving yards record. Laube held a career high 12 receptions for 295 yards with three touchdowns. He led the Wildcats in the receiving and rushing categories with a total of 371 all-purpose yards.
“They knew exactly what we were in,” McElwain said. “They knew how to take advantage of it. And, you know, they got him the ball.”
Although the Chippewas never found themselves down on the scoreboard, they were unable to let their guard down all throughout the game as they were dealing with an explosive offense on the other side.
“We've been on a string here and it hadn’t been good,” McElwain said. “And that's my responsibility, my fault. But then sometimes when you figure out, (it) doesn't matter who the opponent is, doesn't matter what the situation is, when you figure out how to win, you can build on that, and I thought we did.”
In their week one outing, the Wildcats found extreme success through their passing game. This week they did it again as they nearly doubled their passing yards.
UNH quarterback Max Brosmer threw for 493 yards putting the Chippewas defense to the test.
While the Wildcats continued to keep the Chippewas on their toes, the CMU offense found their stride, creating balance on the ground and through the air.
Emanuel displayed significant development and maturity by accumulating 193 passing yards and recording two touchdowns through the air, while also showcasing his versatility with 101 rushing yards and two additional scores on the ground.
“This was a big growing day for me, especially since it's like, it's a lot more throws,” Emanuel Jr. said “You know, last year was a lot of runs. This year, it's a little bit more open, I'm throwing, I'm running (and) I'm doing a lot of different things. And I feel like it's showing that I'm growing up a little bit.”
The redshirt freshman opened up the scoring by putting the Chippewas on the board in the first minute in half of the game when he rushed up the middle breaking through for a 66-yard touchdown marking his fourth career rush of 60 yards or more.
Emanuel Jr. continued his performance throughout the game, bringing it to the final drive when the game came down to a 4th and 1 play where the Chippewas converted with a QB sneak to set the game winning field goal.
“Sometimes you just gotta trust your guys and trust your instinct,” McElwain said. “But more importantly, let's go ahead and you know, impose our will a little bit and we did.”
CMU will look to face its toughest competition yet this season as they travel to South Bend as they take on No. 10 Notre Dame on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
“(It’s a) good feeling playing at Notre Dame, that's pretty cool,” McElwain said. “Been there three times, and it's awesome… the history and the tradition, I'm excited to get there. And, you know, for our guys, we got to study this. They're gonna take advantage of the things that we showed we couldn't stop, so we've got to get that corrected.”