Central Michigan capped off yet another successful MAC weekend with a 23-15 victory over in-state rival Western Michigan to start their season 2-0.
With state bragging rights and a league game on the line, tensions and emotions were definitely evident on the pitch between these two squads.
The was tight for the majority of the first half as both teams came out with a lot of intensity. However, errors and overall sloppiness were the name of the game as both teams did their best to harness their aggression in a hostile environment.
“That is one area we need to drastically improve, keeping our composure in games like this,” CMU coach Andrew Stead said. “We made some unnecessary mistakes that hindered our play.”
Point didn’t hit the scoreboard until 30 minutes into the first half when Western Michigan took advantage of a loose ball with a scoop and score by wing Spencer Manderack to take an early lead. Central Michigan’s David Sands kept the Chippewas in the match with an penalty kick going into the half.
The second half started off the same, but it was how things finished out that really was Western Michigan’s undoing. With another score from outside center Dan Keacy, a penalty kick from scrumhalf Mark Withers and conversion from flyhalf Austin King, WMU was out to a commanding 15-3 lead with about 20 minutes to play.
That’s when Central Michigan went into their smash-mouth mode and took control of the rucks and found great depth off their bench. After the 50th minute, the Chippewas went to work and slowly chipped away at their deficit in front of their home crowd.
Scrumhalf Edward Curran was the first to touch down for Central Michigan off a kick and penalty awarded by the ref. Sands came through with the kick to make the score 15-10 with the clock winding down.
The dagger came from No. 8 Zach Spearman who punched the ball into the try zone with a little more than two minutes left in the game. Sands stayed consistent with his leg and added three penalty kicks throughout the match to not only keep his team competitive, but also put the icing on the score 23-15.
“David really kept us in the match all day long with his foot, he was very clutch,” Stead said.”
After the game, WMU coach Mark Allen got straight to point in his analysis of his team and why they lost.
“We had to win our set pieces, scrums and get clean ball to our backs,” he said. “It didn’t happen when we needed it the most and won only about 30%, can’t win games like that, especially against these teams.”
Central Michigan welcomes the Ohio Bobcats into town next weekend who are coming off a convincing win. Western Michigan gets their first crack at home-field advantage next weekend against Cincinnati.