As has been the case for the many games during this frustrating first season under Dan Enos, the Chippewas found themselves with an opportunity to win a game late. And once again the Maroon and Gold left with a loss. Lucky for me, I had the weird CBS College Sports channel that the game was being televised on. Highlights of the game can be seen here.
The latest effort came today in Annapolis, MD where CMU fell 38-37 to heavily favored Navy. With the loss, CMU falls to 3-8(2-5 MAC) It was an offensive slugfest, with the two teams combining for 965 yards of total offense, in two completely contrasting styles.
Central appeared to be completely out of it, down 14 with around 5 minutes left in the game. When Ryan Radcliff and the offense started clicking again. Zurlon Tipton scored his 2nd touchdown of the day, bring the Chips within 38-31. The defense finally was able to get the Navy option attack off the field in 4 plays, giving Radcliff and the offense 1:04 to go 80 yards to go for a potential game-tying or winning drive.
Radcliff came through, marching the Chippewas down the field very efficiently (CMU was out of timeouts) setting up a dramatic 4th down completion to Cody Wilson with 4 seconds left. On that 4th down play, Radcliff had plenty of time in the pocket, and Wilson was 1 on 1. The ball was tipped up by the Navy defender, but Wilson never took his eyes off the ball, and was able to haul it in, bringing the score to 38-37.
Dan Enos decided to go for the win then and there, rather than try and stop the Navy rushing attack in overtime. Again on the two-point conversion Radcliff was given ample time to find an open receiver. But he elected to try and squeeze it into double coverage, and his pass to Kito Poblah went sailing out the back of the endzone, resulting in the final of 38-37.
In all honesty, I did not expect CMU to even compete in this game. They had been ran all over in some earlier MAC games this year, and I expected Navy to win this game in a walk. So while I am disappointed that CMU was not able to get a quality win over a very solid Navy team, I am happy that the team dug deep, and gave themselves a chance at winning the game late.
Good news and bad news on defense today. First the good: CMU only gave up 33 yards passing today! The bad: It was on 5 attempts, and Navy ran for 437 yards. My biggest fear coming into this game came true, as Central was unable to stop the option all day long. Consistently the Midshipmen were able to get 2 on 1’s on the edge, and were able to gash the Chippewa defense for 8.4 yards per carry. Luckily, CMU does not have to see the triple option very often, because today clearly showed that they had no answer for it.
Ryan Radcliff had the best game of his career, going 36/58 for 396 yards, 3 touchdowns, but more importantly, zero interceptions. Today he finally showed that he can be the quarterback that everyone wanted, and expected him to be coming into this season. He was very efficient on 3rd downs, and showed tremendous poise late in the game, leading the Chippewas from 14 points down to a chance at winning in the dying seconds.
Cody Wilson also continued his terrific season, hauling in 13 passes, for 126 yards, and a touchdown. In the process of his 126 yards, Wilson was able to break the 1,000 yard mark in receiving yards this season. Daniel Blackburn was a very pleasant surprise today, catching 4 passes for 66 yards, and 2 touchdowns, showing he can be a very dangerous open field runner for a tight end. Both scores were terrific efforts along the sideline.
All in all, I thought this was the best game the CMU offense had played all year. Radcliff looked the best he had all season, Tipton ran hard, and Wilson and Blackburn were dangerous all game long. Anytime your offense puts up 495 yards of total offense, it’s a good day.
And while I fully expected the defense to get ran all over, it still does not make it any less disappointing to see it happen. But as I said earlier, they don’t run into the triple option very often, and they aren’t the only ones who Navy has tormented with it.
CMU has next week off, before finishing up the season the day after Thanksgiving with a visit to Toledo.