Western Michigan comes up short against CMU

Published 10:28 am Saturday, November 6, 2010

MOUNT PLEASANT – Costly turnovers and missed opportunities were too much to overcome as Western Michigan fell to Central Michigan, 26-22, in front of 22,355 fans at a frigid Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Friday night.
Despite losing four fumbles throughout the game, the Broncos had what they wanted in the waning moments of the fourth quarter – the ball in the hands of the offense with a chance to win the game on the final drive. WMU started the fateful drive at its own 34-yard line. Brian Fields ran the ball for 15 yards and a first down. He ran the ball again on the second play, gaining a couple. Fields led the Bronco rushing attack for the first time this season, racking up 71 yards on 13 carries.
After an incomplete pass, Alex Carder found Juan Nunez for nine yards on third-and-8 to convert the first down. It was the 12th of Nunez’s 14 catches for 133 yards on Friday night, giving him three games with at least 10 catches this season. Carder and Nunez hooked up again two plays later for an 18-yard gain down to CMU’s six-yard line.
It was first and goal with two minutes to play. Fields rushed the ball for three yards to the CMU three-yard line. The Chippewas called time out with 1:43 remaining. On second and goal, Fields carried the ball again this time for no gain and this time he did not have the ball at the end of the play. CMU’s Armond Staten stripped the ball at contact and Joe Kinville recovered at the five-yard line. Three plays later Carl Volny rushed the ball for four yards on third-and-three, icing the game.
There were 10 combined fumbles during Friday’s contest with WMU losing four and CMU losing one. Ryan Radcliffe also threw an interception to Mario Armstrong, giving the senior three on the year.
Central Michigan marched down the field on its opening drive, scoring from 17 yards out when Radcliffe found Cody Wilson in the end zone. Wilson finished with a career high 12 catches for a career and game high 185 yards receiving. Western Michigan finally answered with a touchdown on its fourth drive of the game but it was not the Broncos first points of the night.
After a 53-yard Ben Armer punt, CMU moved backwards from its own 16 and eventually Paul Hazel and Deauntay Legrier converged on Radcliffe, sacking him in the end zone for a safety. It was the first safety recorded by a player or players since Zach Davidson sacked Theo Scott for a safety against Ohio on Oct. 4, 2008. WMU had a team safety at Indiana on Sept. 12, 2009.
The next two WMU drives ended in lost fumbles but the Broncos fourth drive resulted in the team’s first TD of the night. The Broncos moved the ball 72 yards in 12 plays as Carder lofted a pass to Jordan White for the score. It was the first of two TD catches for White on Friday, the other going for 55 yards, as the Cleveland, Ohio, native became only the seventh Bronco to gain over 1,000 yards receiving in a season in WMU history (1,057). The second TD pass from Carder also meant the sophomore became only the third WMU QB to throw at least 20 TDs in a season, joining Tim Lester and Tim Hiller.
Carder’s 55-yard strike to White gave the Broncos a 15-10 lead at the 12:14 mark of the third quarter. WMU held the CMU offense to a field goal after a fumble gave the Chippewas a first-and-goal from the Broncos’ seven-yard line, making the score 15-13 in favor of Western Michigan. It was the second made field goal of the night for CMU’s David Harman.
WMU stretched its lead to nine points when a completion to Nunez from 11 yards out, initially ruled out of bounds, was reviewed and deemed a catch and a score, putting the Broncos up 22-13 with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter. CMU scored the game’s final 13 points, converting on fourth-and-6 at the WMU 32-yard line on a completion to Matt Torres down to the Broncos’ six-yard line.
That score put CMU within two points, 22-20, and after the Broncos failed on a 46-yard field goal attempt, the longest attempt of the season for the junior who has made good on 34-of-34 PATs this season and 56 straight dating back to Oct. 10, 2009, with 9:19 gave Central Michigan the ball at its own 28-yard line. CMU used eight plays to go 72 yards and scored on Radcliffe’s second TD pass of the night, this time from five yards out to Kito Poblah.
Carder finished the game 27-for-44 for 272 yards and three scores. He has four games this season with three or more TD passes and five multi-TD passing games in 2010. He heads into the final three games of the year just 429 yards shy of 3,000. White finished with eight catches for 119 yards, his fifth 100-yard game of the season and the ninth of his career. WMU rushed for 158 yards against CMU for an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
Three Broncos finished with double digit tackles – Doug Wiggins (13), Armstrong (10) and Zajac (10) – all career highs. Lewis Toler recovered his third fumble of the season, leading the team with seven take aways.
Western Michigan heads back to Waldo Stadium to finish the Mid-American Conference West Division portion of its schedule against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 13. After that, the Broncos close out the 2010 campaign at home against Kent State (Nov. 20) and on the road at Bowling Green (Nov. 26).