CMU football defense leads charge in homecoming victory

CMU junior running back Myles Bailey rushes the ball during the homecoming game against Akron, Saturday, Oct. 14 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Bailey had one touchdown. (CM-Life | Marie Underwood)

On third down of its first drive of the third quarter, Akron quarterback Tahj Bullock’s pass was tipped by Central Michigan football linebacker Kyle Moretti as defensive back Marcus Badgett followed up with the interception for CMU.

In the Chippewas next drive, quarterback Jase Bauer rushed for a five-yard touchdown to give CMU a 10-3 lead. The Chippewa defense continued its dominant performance all through the game as it held the Akron Zips to give CMU a 17-10 homecoming victory on Saturday. 

“It's just great to get a win," head coach Jim McElwain said. “And again, another win at home and that’s something we’re getting back to, is winning at home… It's great to get a win at home and homecoming and happy for those kids.”

In the Chippewas second drive of the first quarter, Bauer threw an interception to set Akron up with a 40-yard field goal in its next drive to take a 3-0 lead. Bauer threw two interceptions on the day in back-to-back drives while he completed 17-of-32 attempts for 181 yards. 

“I just got to be better at protecting the ball,” Bauer said. “Giving our wide receivers the best chance to make a play, you know. Those two interceptions are on me … I just got to be better. Kind of get my swagger back and my confidence, and I think we'll be good.” 

After the second interception, Trey Jones III, with his back turned to the ball, answered right back for the Chippewas as he intercepted Bullock's pass at the 42-yard line after he was pressured by Moretti. 

“Just having that mentality that we are unstoppable,” Jones said. “When we think we are unstoppable, we can be unstoppable. I mean, when we do everything that we're supposed to, our correct assignments, correct techniques … Everything that we are taught to do, we can do stuff like we did today.” 

Just before the half, the Chippewas earned their first points when redshirt junior Tristan Mattson attempted a 58-yard field goal, a kick that set a new record in the history of both the Chippewas program and the stadium.

“I took a peek at it (the record) when I first committed here,” Mattson said. “I knew it was (56) yards. It’s exciting, really exciting … We were running a little low on time. The shot clock I saw was at like five seconds left, did a little skip to the left, and just went out there and kicked it as hard as I could.”

CMU scored its second touchdown on an 18 play, 76-yard drive to mark the largest number of plays and longest time of possession of the season, leading to 2-yard rushing touchdown from junior running back Myles Bailey for his third of the year.

The Zips scored one touchdown with 12:42 left in the fourth quarter with another quarterback in Jeff Undercuffler as he threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Alex Adams to bring Akron within seven.

The Chippewas defense continued its standout performance as it held the Zips to no gain in its final drives to secure the CMU homecoming victory. 

“I could maybe argue it was maybe the best defensive overall performance that we've had since I've been here,” McElwain said. “And that's a hell of a deal. So now, what did we do well? Let's keep doing it.”