The Central Michigan Chippewas followed a familiar pattern on Saturday. They started out hot and collapsed in the second half as the Bowling Green Falcons spoiled Senior Day at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The Chippewas fell to 1-10, 0-7 Mid-American Conference following Saturday’s 24-13 loss to the Falcons who moved to 2-8, 1-5 MAC.
Central Michigan Falls to Bowling Green
First Half Success
The offense played well in the first half; it was arguably one of the best halves that the Chippewas offense has put together this season. The Chippewas had nine first downs and gained 137 yards in 32 plays. It was almost exactly even as the Chippewas rushed for 69 yards and threw for 68 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Central Michigan’s defense was once again the strong point as they allowed only 51 yards to the Falcons. The Chippewas only let the Falcons into the red zone once and they were not able to capitalize.
Opening the scoring was junior running back Johnathan Ward as he scored his first touchdown of the year from eight yards out. The strong first half for the Chippewa offense was capped off by a 30-yard pass from redshirt freshman starting quarterback Austin Hergott to redshirt freshman Julian Hicks. Junior kicker Ryan Tice missed the extra point off the upright to keep the score 13-0 Central Michigan late in the first half.
The stats did not signify a strong half but the Chippewas were able to move the ball well. They have struggled with that throughout the 2018 campaign and did it very well in the first two quarters. Central Michigan’s defense held strong throughout the first half, each side of the ball held up its end of the bargain, and the Chippewas were in control. They were possibly heading to a long-awaited win as the teams headed to the locker room.
Second Half Slump
Bowling Green erased Central Michigan’s great start by scoring a quick touchdown to open up the third quarter on a 29-yard run from sophomore running back Andrew Clair and then added a two-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege to senior tight end Dorian Hendrix and a Nate Needham field goal from 20 yards to score 17 points in the third quarter.
The roles completely reversed when the teams returned to the field following the intermission. The Central Michigan defense could simply not stop the Falcon passing attack as they utilized slant routes over the middle. The Chippewas struggled to prevent completions over the middle-third of the field.
“the third quarter was over before I knew what happened.”
The Falcons ran the ball strongly and were able to gain 112 yards in the third frame.
Hergott and the offense struggled through the third quarter. Head coach John Bonamego said after the game that “the third quarter was over before I knew what happened.”
Mental Mistake Madness
The Chippewas have struggled all season with self-inflicted errors. Penalties, turnovers and missed assignments have been the most prominent miscues this season. It happened once again as the Chippewas hurt themselves–most notably on special teams. The Falcons converted a fake punt that helped extend their opening drive of the second half, which they eventually scored on. The Falcons also recovered the ensuing kickoff to give themselves the ball inside the Chippewas’ 40 yard line.
“Special teams were a disappointment,” Bonamego said. The momentum swung into the favor of the Falcons, who took the lead before the Chippewa offense even took the field in the second half.
Another miscue, possibly one of the most momentous, came on a junior running back Romello Ross’ fumble at the Central Michigan one yard line, which the Falcons scooped up and scored to extend the lead to 24-13 with just under seven minutes to play.
“Momentum was on their side the entire second half,” Bonamego said. “Those special teams plays they made were huge, they cut really deep.”
“Those special teams plays they made were huge, they cut really deep.”
On the ensuing drive, Hergott went downfield and was unsuccessful as two passes were long, with the first one almost intercepted. The third attempt was on a fourth down and was broken up by the Falcon pass coverage. The pass hit senior wide receiver Devon Spalding in the hands as he was falling to the ground to give the ball back to the Falcons.
Miscues have hurt the Chippewas in the past and it did so again on Saturday.
Saturday’s loss to the Falcons marks the first time in Central Michigan football history that a team recorded 10 losses. A mark that no coach, player, or fan ever wants to see.
The Chippewas played a strong first half; they moved the ball well and they scored a pair of touchdowns. Then they fell apart in the second half, giving up 24 unanswered points and lost by double digits again. The Chippewas needed to carry their play from the first half to the second. It is hard to rally from allowing the opponent to score twice in a matter of minutes. Especially the way the Falcons used their special teams.
Central Michigan will have a bye week this upcoming week and a chance to “recharge the batteries” as Bonamego said. They will then take on the Toledo Rockets in the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio on Friday, Nov. 23.
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