CMU football falls in final game of the season against No. 23 Toledo

CMU's redshirt sophomore and quarterback Jase Bauer runs with the play towards the end zone, Friday, Nov. 24, Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (CM-Life | Nico Mendoza)

With 1:22 remaining in the first half and the score tied at zero, Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn connected with receiver Jaden Dottin who made a circus catch in the corner of the endzone.

The score jump started the Rockets offense leading them to 17 unanswered points over Central Michigan leading to the Chippewas falling 32-17. For CMU it ended the season with three straight losses bringing its record to 5-7 just shy of bowl eligibility. 

“Disappointing not going out on a win,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “I told our guys, hold your heads high and I told those seniors not only how much I loved them, but how much Central Michigan University loved them.”

Before the game started CMU celebrated the 12 seniors that put on the maroon and gold for the last time in their careers.

“They've (seniors) got a lot to be proud of,” McElwain said. “They've been through some of the greatest times in Chippewa football history, and they also made it through a strange year with COVID. But at the end of the day those guys can be really proud.”

The first 10 drives of the game resulted in a turnover or a punt for both teams until Toledo scored the opening touchdown. CMU then quickly went three and out giving the Rockets a field position which, they turned into a field goal right before the end of the half.

“We didn’t score in the first half ... that’s on me,” quarterback Jase Bauer said. “We got to be better in the first half, we can’t get shut out.”

Down 10-0, CMU opened the second half with a promising drive after junior running back Marion Lukes caught a pass for 44-yards. The next four plays featured Lukes until disaster struck and he fumbled at the seven-yard line turning the ball over to the Rockets.

Five plays later Toledo found itself on the CMU three-yard line after running back Penny Boone broke free for a 63-yard gain. Three plays later, Boone found himself in the endzone extending the Rockets lead to 17.

CMU added a field goal with 6:45 left in the third quarter, but Toledo answered back with another touchdown drive making the score 24-3 at the end of the third quarter.

The Chippewas tried to claw back at the lead in the fourth quarter getting their first touchdown of the game. But once again, the score was answered by a Toledo touchdown making the score 32-11.

CMU scored again before the end of the game and after the failed onside kick, Toledo kneed the clock out with a final score, 32-17.

The Chippewas were led offensively by Jase Bauer who completed 57 percent (15-26) of his passes for 182 yards and a touchdown while also adding 35 yards and a score on the ground.

Senior receiver Thomas Pannunzio led the team in receptions with three and yards with 60, both of which are season highs. While Marion Lukes led the team on the ground with 54 yards on 15 attempts, he also added two catches for 48 yards.

Defensively was led by sophomore linebacker Dakota Cochran who registered eight tackles, while junior defensive back Da’Raun Moore chipped in seven with one being a tackle for loss.

For the second straight season, CMU has ended the season with a winning percentage below .500 while also on a losing skid of two or more games. McElwain will look to turn around the program while seeing what his team will look like heading into next season.

“We got a lot of young guys who took a lot of snaps,” McElwain said about the positives from the game. “I think you learn from doing it and we'll see how many of those (young players) we hold on to and then move forward from there.”