WMU football shows NCAA’s best offense is no coincidence in shootout victory over rival CMU
It was only two games, and one was against an unfortunate Akron team.
One of the Week 2 touchdowns was the result of rigged play after an unlikely in-play kick.
There were several reasons to take a skeptical look at Western Michigan’s position atop the NCAA offensive standings after two weeks, but Wednesday’s 52-44 road victory over rival Central Michigan proved that the unit of the Broncos was legitimate.
The Chippewas entered the battle for the cannon of the 2020 victory with a defense that ranked No.3 nationally in percentage of third (23.1), ninth in rushing defense (92 yards allowed per game) and eighth in total defense (294.5), and the Broncos sliced them up like a big Thanksgiving turkey.
Second-year quarterback Kaleb Eleby showed his command by connecting on seven passes from 20 yards or more, and the 6-foot-1, 215-pound shooter displayed a powerful right arm throwing down or down slopes. and hitches that reached receivers in a hurry, allowing them to step onto the field for big wins.
Eleby set career highs in yards (382) and touchdowns (five) on 12 of 20 assists to finish with a sterling quarterback rating of 292.9.
As good as Eleby’s final stat line was, the start was less promising.
After CMU took a 7-0 lead on a 65-yard touchdown run from receiver-turned-quarterback Kalil Pimpleton, Eleby threw an interception from tight end Brett Borske, allowing the Chippewas to take over. of the Broncos. 24-meter line.
Five games later, running back Kobe Lewis took his turn as a wild quarterback and made his way into the end zone from 3 yards to give CMU a 14-0 under-four lead. minutes after the start of the match.
It couldn’t have been worse for WMU, but the Broncos responded with a 4-yard touchdown from Eleby and a 6-yard score from running back Sean Tyler.
They took a 21-14 lead on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Eleby to senior Dee Eskridge, who caught a quick tilt and used his 4.3 speed to leave the CMU defensive backs behind. in its dust during the first game of the second quarter.
WMU would retain the lead for the final three stanzas, scoring 38 unanswered points and seeing a career game from Eskridge, who four assists for 212 yards and two more touchdowns from 85 and 72 yards.
But perhaps his biggest catch of the game was on an in-play kick after WCU’s last touchdown with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter.
After trailing as much as 22 points in the final frame, the Chippewas staged a pair of quick strikes in the dying minutes to make it a 52-44 game, and WMU fans anxiously watched as CMU line up for a kick out, well aware of how the Week 2 Broncos’ return to Toledo went.
But the Chippewas couldn’t repeat last week’s miracle return to Kalamazoo, as Eskridge jumped for football and allowed WMU to miss time against a CMU team without any downtime.
CMU quarterback Daniel Richardson completed 13 of 19 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, but also took four sacks.
Former Muskegon High star Pimpleton finished with 108 yards and three touchdowns in seven carries, while adding 42 yards on three catches and throwing a 30-yard pass to former Big Reds teammate JaCory Sullivan.
Kobe Lewis led the WCU rushing game with 16 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard rush that made it 45-28 with 9:35 left in the third quarter.
The win takes the Broncos to 3-0 and gives them six wins in the last seven meetings with rival Chippewas, including five in a row at Mount Pleasant.
It also puts them in exclusive possession of the top spot in MAC West, with preseason favorites CMU (2-1) and Toledo (2-1) having some ground to catch up.
WMU has 10 days to prepare for their next game against Northern Illinois (0-3), which begins Saturday, November 28 at noon at Waldo Stadium.
Those extra three days of rest will be important for the health of a team that has played without several starters on both sides of the ball, including defensemen Ali Fayad and Andre Carter, running back Jaxson Kincaide and first-year USA wide receiver. Skyy Moore.
Running back Sean Tyler also suffered an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter, leaving Michigan State transfer La’Darius Jefferson at 153 yards on 33 carries.
With so much depth in the skill positions, it’s no coincidence that WMU only increased their scoring average by 49.5 points per game, despite falling behind their fellow Conference member. mid-American Kent State in the points-per-game standings heading into Week 4 after the Golden Flashs beat Akron 69-35 on Tuesday to raise their average to 52.7.
With so much firepower in the conference, WMU having their full roster of players going forward could be the difference between a good team with a strong offense and the mid-American conference champions.