The first season of CMU Football under new coach Dan Enos came to an end today. CMU had no answer for Toledo WR Eric Page, who accounted for 5 touchdowns, guiding the Rockets to a 42-31 victory over the Chippewas. CMU finishes the season at 3-9 (2-6 MAC).
The game had the makings of a high scoring affair right from the start, when just over a minute into the game Toledo opened the scoring with a 75 yard TD pass from Terrance Owens to Kenny Stafford. That would be the only time Eric Page would not factor into the Toledo scoring. But the Chippewas responded, going on a nice, long drive that was capped by a 1 yard TD run from Carl Volney to tie it up at 7-7.
From there it became the Eric Page show. The ensuing kick-off was taken 99 yards for a touchdown by page, putting Toledo up 14-7. The CMU offense was unable to do anything for the next couple series, one series ending in a Ryan Radcliff interception, and both times Toledo marched down the field, and scored touchdowns on passes to Eric Page. In the span of about 15 actual game minutes, Page accounted for 3 touchdowns, and put Toledo up 28-7.
But CMU wasn’t done yet, they were able to respond to the second Page touchdown by driving down the field, and scoring with just over 3 minutes left in the half to make it a 28-14 game at the half.
Central opened the second half with the ball and a chance to cut the Rocket lead down to seven, but the drive stalled inside the red zone, and David Harmon connected from 33 yards out to get CMU within 11, 28-17.
The ensuing kick-off was a back breaker, for the second time on the day, Eric Page took the kick and returned it for a Toledo touchdown to make it 35-17. For the remainder of the third quarter, the defenses stepped up, and held each team scoreless until early in the fourth quarter.
Just under two minutes into the 4th quarter, CMU looked like it had life, blocking a Toledo punt, and recovering the lose ball in the end zone, getting the Chippewas to within 11 again, 35-24. But Toledo was unfazed, and marched right down the field. The drive was capped off by a backwards pass, to Eric Page, who threw it back to quarterback Terrance Owens who had a convoy of blockers guiding him to the end zone for a 28 yard TD pass, and Page’s 5th touchdown of the day.
CMU responded to that drive with another touchdown of their own, marching easily down the field, before Zurlon Tipton was able to score from 2 yards out, once again cutting the lead to 11, 42-31. The next drive for Toledo was stopped cold, and killed little time, giving CMU momentum and life with just under 6 minutes left in the game. Then CMU blocked the punt, and recovered deep in Rocket territory, looking poised to pull closer, and make the last 5 minutes of the game very exciting.
But on the very first play the Chippewas ran, Ryan Radcliff was hit from behind, and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Toledo. Ending CMU’s momentum, and any hopes of a late game comeback. From there the Rockets were able to march down the field, and kill all the remaining time left.
The biggest story in this game was without question Eric Page. He hauled in 12 catches for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns, had 215 yards of kick-return yards including the 2 scores, and a 28 yard touchdown pass. All in all, he accounted for 370 total yards, and 5 consecutive Rocket touchdowns.
The CMU defense was average in this game, but not terrible, holding the Rockets to 84 yards rushing on 33 carries, but much like the special teams unit, could not stop Page.
CMU had another nice day passing the ball from a statistical standpoint, with Ryan Radcliff going 28-39 for 322 yards. But Radcliff had no touchdown passes, and 2 turnovers, 1 interception and the late fumble. Cody Wilson was again his favorite target, catching 10 passes for 109 yards. While the passing numbers were nice, the rushing attack was again lacking, despite the 3 rushing touchdowns. CMU only average 2.4 yards per carry, gaining 63 yards on 26 carries.
This was another disappointing ending, and capped off a very disappointing season. If the special teams unit had stepped up and stopped at least one of those Page returns, CMU may have been looking at an upset. But those returns had CMU playing catch up the whole game, and the Chippewas never recovered.
The first season under Dan Enos is in the books. More about this in the Season Recap sometime next week.