WIU Leathernecks fall to CMU

Jeff Reynolds

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The Leathernecks took their No. 11 ranking and traveled to Central Michigan University Saturday, hoping to return 2-0 and gain momentum for the remainder of the non-conference schedule.Unfortunately for the ‘Necks, the Chippewas had other ideas.

The ‘Necks received the opening kickoff, which was taken by senior running back Ty Kingsby inside the 5-yard line. Kingsby did all he could on the return, taking the ball into the end zone for a 98-yard touchdown. Sophomore place-kicker Joe Lopez converted the point after, giving the ‘Necks a 7-0 lead with 14 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

The ‘Necks failed to score on their next series, granting the Chippewas the ball with 7:33 left in the quarter.

CMU rattled off an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive, powered by running back Eric Flowers, who punched the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out, knotting the game at 7. Flowers was just getting started, carrying the ball 37 times for 202 yards and two more touchdowns in the game.

Head coach Randy Ball and his staff chose to play the ball game without the services of senior running back Aaron Stecker, who is still not 100 percent after suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago. Stecker has yet to participate in live action this season, although he practiced last week. Ball cited the Astroturf surface at CMU as a main reason for Stecker’s absence.

The ‘Necks once again looked to Kingsby, who ran for 116 yards in the ‘Necks’ opener against St. Cloud State University last week. Kingsby didn’t disappoint, answering Flowers’ touchdown romp with a 73-yard run 6 minutes into the second quarter. The run came on the opening play of the drive, supplying the ‘Neck defense with a 7-point lead.

On their next possession, the ‘Necks coughed up the football on what would prove to be a crucial turnover, returned 40 yards for a touchdown by CMU’s Jeremy Gold and forcing a halftime tie at 14.

The Chippewas got the ball with 5:22 left in the third quarter and struck quickly through the air on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Pete Shepherd to Reggie Allen.

The play gave CMU its first lead of the game, 21-14, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Shepherd combined with Flowers to form the Chippewas’ two-headed monster, adding 242 passing yards and completing 16 of his 27 attempts to go along with Flowers’ 202 rushing yards. Those two players alone outgained the ‘Necks in total offense – their 444 to the ‘Necks’ 264. The Chippewa offense outgained the ‘Necks 27 to 12 in total first downs, outrushed them 277 to 176 and tallied 136 more yards through the air.

With its dominating second half of play, CMU rattled off 21 unanswered points on scores by Allen and a pair of rushing touchdowns for Flowers, one 10-yard jaunt and one from 16 yards away, giving the Chippewas their first win of the season, 35-14.

The ‘Necks fall to 1-1 on the season and will be on the road once again next week, as they travel to Elon College in North Carolina.

Sept. 26 the ‘Necks return home to take on Southern Utah University before they open the Gateway Football Conference schedule against defending national champion Youngstown State University Oct. 3.

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