The Central Michigan Chippewas shook off a weird weekend last week and beat the Miami (OH) Red Hawks 29-22 for a much-needed MAC win.
CMU had to travel to Ohio to play Dayton, but never got the chance. A long road trip wasted because Dayton couldn't find a suitable venue for the match (game has been rescheduled for October 28), so they had to switch their efforts towards their next match against Miami.
With Bowling Green steaming through the competition, second place has become the new position all teams are gunning for and with an even record (2-2) coming into the match, CMU was all but out of the playoff picture.
It didn’t start well for the Chippewas as Miami came out of the gates with their youthful energy and charging on their home pitch. The Red Hawks were the first to put points on the board with a well-earned try within the first 10 minutes.
CMU responded with wing David Sands hitting a penalty kick; however Miami brought the spotlight back on them with another try little more than halfway through to make the score 12-3. It was gut check time for CMU as something positive needed to happen before the half.
It came in the form of flanker Ryan Margrave who, according to Head Coach Andrew Stead, played a great game on both ends of the pitch. The score at the half was 12-10 in favor of a young Miami squad.
“He (Ryan) played an outstanding match,” Stead said. “He along shut down all the weak side attempts off the scrums. We convened at the half and had some things to correct; not getting to the rucks quick enough and making some mental errors.”
From there it was up to CMU to correct mistakes and finish the match on a strong note with a potential playoff spot on the line. And the second half was the perfect opportunity.
Miami got the first points on the board with a penalty kick for a 15-10 lead; CMU countered with a big score from No. 8 Ryan Keady to tie it up 15-15. Bolstered by Keady’s energy, CMU went on the attack.
It started with other flanker Nick Stathakis bursting through a hole and finding a lot of empty space in front of him to take their first lead of the game. CMU didn’t look back after that; wing Jesse Bradford subbed in and made an immediate impact.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bradford used his fresh legs to outrun everyone down the field, catch the ball off one hop and score to put the game out of reach 29-15. Miami scored late to make the game interesting, but came up short for a 29-22 final.
“Adversity has been a part of this team this year, we bend but don’t really break,” Stead uttered. “We put ourselves in some tough situations, but these guys fight until the final whistle blows and our coaching staff applauds their relentless effort.”
Central Michigan puts themselves into the thick of the MAC contenders with the win and will play Cincinnati next weekend at home before their bye week. Miami takes on Northern Illinois next weekend for one of two home games left in the season.