MAC Football Thursday Recap:
Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 26 Final
Central Michigan 38, Southeast Missouri State 27 Final
Kent State 41, Towson 21 Final
Central Florida 56, Akron 14 Final
UConn 37, UMass 0 Final
Game stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments.
Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 26 Final Game Stats Postgame Notes
MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State University football team defeated Eastern Michigan,37-26, Thursday night at Scheumann Stadium in its season and Mid-American Conference opener.
"I am proud of the kids," Ball State second-year head coach Pete Lembo says. "They were really resilient in the second half and really came out focused in the second half. I cannot quite explain some of the things in the first half because there were certainly moments where I thought we looked really good, and then obviously turnovers and some of the penalties and big plays we gave up hurt us."
The Cardinals 11-point margin of victory was the largest in the series with the Eagles since a 38-16 Cardinals win in 2008. The previous three meetings were each decided by three points or fewer.
Sophomore running back Jahwan Edwards had a career long 75-yard touchdown run in the opening minutes of the second half to give the Cardinals a 20-13 advantage over the Eagles. Edwards ended the game with three rushing touchdowns, while rushing for a career high 200 yards, surpassing his previous career best of 123 yards last year at Ohio. Edwards 200 rushing yards are the most by a Ball State player since MiQuale Lewis (301) and Cory Sykes (203) both topped the 200-mark against Eastern Michigan in 2009.
"I really believe our offensive line took control of the game in the second half and I am very proud of how we ran the ball," Lembo says.
Defensively senior co-captain and middle linebacker Travis Freeman led Ball State with nine tackles while teammates Jeffery Garrett and Chris Pauling each had seven. The Cardinals defense held the Eagles scoreless in the first and third quarters.
Ball State added two more touchdowns in the third quarter after a rushing TD from sophomore Horactio Banks at the 7:04 mark and then Edwards added another TD with :08 remaining to make it a 34-13 game.
Senior kicker Steven Schott made it a perfect 3-for-3 from field goal range when he made a 19-yard field goal to put Ball State up 37-13 at the start of the fourth quarter. Eastern Michigan added two touchdowns to the scoreboard to cut the Cardinals lead to 37-26 with 5:01 remaining in the contest.
The first half marked an offensive battle for the second straight season between the two schools, as Ball State took the early 10-0 edge over the Eagles after a seven-yard TD run from Edwards and a career long 52-yard field goal from Schott. The Cardinals tied the game 13-13 to end the half after putting together 10-play scoring drive that would allow Schott to nail a 29-yard field goal.
Eastern Michigan answered back in the second quarter after back-to-back touchdowns from Eagles quarterback Alex Gillett, who found wide receiver Donald Scott for 8-yards and then tight end Garrett Hoskins for 23-yards which gave Eastern Michigan the 13-10 advantage over the Cardinals.
"I think ths is a good way to start," Lembo says. "It is an important win because it is a conference win. We know what that means. But I also know we have a tough stretch of games coming up beginning next week, so hopefully we can clean some things up between week one and week two. We have to finish a little better, we have to be more consistent throughout the game, and we have to cut back on our penalties."
Central Michigan 38, Southeast Missouri State 27 Final Game Stats Postgame Notes
MOUNT PLEASANT - Junior Zurlon Tipton and sophomore Anthony Garland became the first tandem to run for 100 yards apiece since 1999 Thursday evening, helping Central Michigan defeat Southeast Missouri State in its season opener, 38-27.
Tipton finished the night with career highs of 180 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries, while Garland totaled 102 yards and a touchdown, also on 17 carries. The Chippewas totaled 324 yards on the ground and averaged 7.2 per yards per rush.
"When you can run the ball on offense, your play sheet is big," head coach Dan Enos said. "You've got a big play sheet, you've got all these things that work. When you can't run the ball those plays are really small in there and you're trying to find something that works and it makes everything better."
After David Harman kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Chippewas (1-0) in front, 3-0, the Redhawks scored 10 unanswered points on a 55-yard touchdown run by Spencer Davis and 37-yard field goal by Drew Geldbach to claim the lead with 4:26 to go in the first quarter.
Tipton tied the game for the Chippewas, 10-10, with his first scamper of the night, capping a five-play, 86-yard drive that lasted just 2:20 with a 32-yard touchdown.
The Redhawks came back with two-straight scores from quarterback Scott Lathrop to put the Chippewas' in a 14-point hole, 24-14. Lathrop scored from four yards out to put SEMO in front, 17-10, and found D.J. Foster wide open in the end zone from 15 yards out on the Redhawks' next possession to give the away team a 24-10 at the 7:13 mark in the second quarter.
Again it was the ground game that helped the Chippewas get back into the game, as Tipton tied his career long with a 48-yard touchdown run at the 5:24 mark of the second quarter to pull CMU within seven, 24-17.
After the Chippewas' defense forced a three and out, the offense ran the ball eight times with Garland scoring from two-yards out with just 39 seconds remaining in the half to tie the game, 24-24.
A 15-play, 52-yard drive that chewed up 8:58 to start the second half allowed the Redhawks to reclaim the lead, 27-24, on a 40-yard field goal from Geldbach.
The Chippewas responded, putting together a substantial drive of their own to take the lead for good. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff found sophomore Caleb Southworth for a 17-yard reception to start the drive and eventually hit sophomore Jarrett Fleming on a play-action pass across the middle for 20 yards to give CMU a 31-24 advantage.
Another long, time-consuming drive in the fourth quarter helped the Maroon and Gold put the game away as Tipton blasted his way home from a yard out for his third and final score of the game. The drive was kept alive twice thanks to third-down conversions in which Radcliff found redshirt freshman wide receiver Andrew Flory for receptions of 13 and 16 yards.
CMU's defense proved vital down the stretch, holding Southeast Missouri to just 87 yards of total offense in the second half. Sophomore linebacker Justin Cherocci finished the night with a career-high 15 tackles while junior safety Jahleel Addae had his 10th career double-digit tackle effort with 10.
The Chippewas return to action next Saturday when they host in-state rival Michigan State for the Clash at Kelly/Shorts presented by PNC Bank. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m on ESPNU.
KENT, Ohio – The night of Thursday, Aug. 30, shone brightly for Kent State as football season kicked off at Dix Stadium in front of a spirited crowd of 15,161. Fireworks entertained the fans of the Blue & Gold following the game, the 1972 Mid-American Conference championship team was honored at halftime for an inspiring title run that took place 40 years ago and the current cast of Golden Flashes showed why the 2012 season holds much promise.
Junior running back Dri Archer (Laurel, Fla.) totaled three touchdowns while the defense produced six takeaways to power Kent State past Towson, 41-21.
Archer set the tone for the night by taking the opening kickoff 57 yards to the Towson 43-yard line. Eleven plays later, senior quarterback Spencer Keith (Little Rock, Ark.) put Kent State's first points of the season on the scoreboard by scrambling five yards to pay dirt.
The Kent State defense countered as senior defensive back Norman Wolfe Jr. (Akron, Ohio) forced a fumble on Towson's opening drive that was recovered by senior defensive end Jake Dooley (Mason, Ohio). Archer extended Kent State's lead to two touchdowns by scampering 15 yards into the endzone five plays later.
The Golden Flashes came up with their second takeaway on the ensuing kickoff as sophomore wide receiver Chris Humphrey (Solon, Ohio) forced the fumble and senior safety Leon Green (Monroeville, Pa.) was there to recover. Senior kicker Freddy Cortez (Fort Meade, Fla.) turned the takeaway into points by converting on a 35-yard try two minutes later to cap a 17-point first quarter for Kent State.
Towson landed its first punch of the game when sophomore tailback Terrance West crossed the goal line from eight yards out to cap a 74-yard drive late in the second quarter. Kent State made sure the momentum swing did not last long, though, as Archer rumbled 98 yards into the end zone with the ensuing kickoff.
Towson turned the ball over a fourth time in the first half on a fumbled punt that was recovered by sophomore linebacker Andre Parker (Ruckersville, Va.) at the Towson seven-yard line with 16 seconds to play in the first half. Cortez closed the opening 30 minutes of play by driving a 22-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Flashes a 27-7 lead going into the break.
The Flashes turned another turnover by the Tigers into points as senior linebacker Luke Batton (Macedonia, Ohio) recovered a Towson fumble with 4:01 left to play in the third quarter. Archer scored his third touchdown of the night four plays later on an 18-yard run.
The third quarter closed with Kent State coming up with its second pick and sixth turnover of the night as junior safety Luke Wollet (Poland, Ohio) snatched a pass from Towson senior quarterback Grant Enders at the Kent State 34-yard line. The fourth quarter opened with junior quarterback David Fisher (Oceanside, Calif.) finding freshman wide receiver Josh Boyle (Venice, Fla.) for a 63-yard scoring strike two plays into the first drive of his Kent State career.
Kent State (1-0) takes to the road for its second contest of the 2012 season, squaring off with Kentucky next Saturday (Sept. 8). Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Kent State Team Notes
•Kent State recorded six turnovers in a game for the first time since 2008 (at Miami). Four came in the first half, two of which came on special teams.
•The Golden Flashes scored 27 points in the opening half for the first time since the seventh game of the 2010 season.
•The Flashes 41 points scored were their most since their 2010 opener against Murray State.
Kent State Individual Notes
•Senior Spencer Keith scored his eighth career rushing touchdown. Keith also moved into second place in career pass completions at Kent State now with 559, trailing only Josh Cribbs (616). Kent State improved to 10-2 when Keith does not throw an interception.
•Senior Norman Wolfe made his ninth career interception, all of which have come since 2010 over a span of 20 games.
•Junior Luke Wollet made his seventh career interception and fifth in his last 10 games. He also led the Flashes with nine tackles.
•Junior Dri Archer's 98-yard kickoff return tied for the second longest in program history and the longest since 1992. It was the Flashes' first kick return for a touchdown since the 2010 opener against Murray State.
•Archer became the first KSU player to score three touchdowns in a game since Julian Edelman in 2008.
•He brought his career touchdowns total to nine, now with four on the ground and his first kick return for a TD. It was Archer's first TD since Oct. 30, 2010. Archer returned two kicks for 155 yards.
•Freshman Josh Boyle made his first career catch and finished the day with three grabs for 95 yards and his first career touchdown.
•Junior Roosevelt Nix had 4.0 tackles for loss, raising his career total to 41, which ranks sixth among program leaders. He finished with eight tackles and upped his career sack total to 15.5, which ranks fifth among KSU career leaders.
•Senior Freddy Cortez made 2-of-3 field goal attempts and has made 36 of his last 48.
•Junior quarterback David Fisher threw his first career touchdown, a 63-yard pass to Boyle.
Central Florida 56, Akron 14 Final Game Stats
AKRON, Ohio – Central Florida built a 35-0 halftime lead and defeated Akron 56-14 in the season opener and first game for new Zips head coach Terry Bowden on Thursday night at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.
Senior quarterback Dalton Williams, also in his first game as a Zip, led the way offensively for Akron (0-1), completing 30-of-50 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Sophomore wide receiver L.T. Smith caught six passes for 87 yards and one touchdown for UA, including the first touchdown of the season and of Bowden's tenure with the Zips.
The score came on a 10-play, 80-yard drive to begin the second half. A 37-yard pass from Williams to Smith set the Zips up at the UCF 13 and on the next play, Williams found Smith again for a 13-yard touchdown strike as Smith reached around UCF defensive back Jordan Ozerities to complete an acrobatic catch in the right corner of the end zone and make the score 35-7.
UA followed its first score by forcing a UCF turnover as senior defensive tackle Nico Caponi latched on to quarterback Blake Bortles' legs and forced a hurried pass into the right flat that sophomore linebacker Justin March made a diving interception on.
UCF (1-0), however, responded as Bortles (13-of-16, 168 yards, 3 TDs) found Rannell Hall on a slant route that went for a 56-yard touchdown catch with 5:28 left in the third quarter. A fumble by freshman Conor Hundley on a short run gave the ball back to UCF and a 12-yard touchdown pass from UCF backup quarterback Tyler Gabbert to Rob Calabrese gave the Knights a 49-7 cushion.
Akron added a second touchdown in the fourth quarter when Williams found senior Marquelo Suel in the back of endzone from 16 yards out, capping an 11-play, 61-yard drive.
The game began as the Knights received the opening kickoff and marched 73 yards in eight plays, six of them rushes, for a touchdown 3:54 into the contest. Bortles connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Martin and Shawn Moffitt converted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Zips had an opportunity to counter after their defense held Central Florida deep in its own territory and forced a punt that junior Dee Frieson fielded at the Akron 46. A 32-yard pass from Williams to junior Keith Sconiers put the Zips on the UCF 22, but the drive stalled at the UCF 18 and a 35-yard field goal attempt by freshman Robert Stein struck the left upright and dropped to the turf to keep the score 7-0 in favor of the visitors.
UCF doubled its lead on a drive than spanned the first and second quarters, moving 80 yards on 10 plays in 4:55 and ending the march with a 2-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray.
A miscue by Frieson on a punt midway through the second quarter set the Knights up with another good scoring opportunity. Frieson fumbled a high, hanging punt by Jamie Boyle and Kemal Ishmael recovered the football at the Akron 12. Three plays later, Storm Johnson bulled his way into the end zone from three yards out for UCF's third touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
Akron sought to move the ball mainly through the air in the first half, with Williams attempting 22 passes and completing 12 for 113 yards.
Bortles added to UCF's first-half scoring burst with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Hall (four catches for 94 yards and 2 TD) with 3:03 left in the second quarter. Malachi Freeman made a play on the ball, but Hall snared it first and regained his balance in time to sprint into the end zone for the score.
It appeared the Zips would run out the clock to end the half, but Jawon Chisholm fumbled on a carry at the Akron 5-yard line and UFC recovered with 0:24 left on the clock. Another three-yard touchdown run by Johnson pushed the Knights' halftime lead to 35-0.
The Zip defense was led by redshirt freshman defensive tackle Cody Grice with eight tackles. Freeman added seven stops and senior linebacker Troy Gilmer had six tackles, including two for losses.
Akron travels to Florida International on Saturday, Sept. 8. Game time is set for 6 p.m. ET.
UConn 37, UMass 0 Final Game Stats Postgame Notes
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Despite forcing three turnovers on defense, the UMass football team was unable to capitalize, falling 37-0 on Thursday night at Connecticut in the Minutemen's FBS era debut. Antoine Tharpe and Tom Brandt each had interceptions, while Greg Hilliard had a fumble recovery. The game was the first meeting between the two former Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10 rivals since the 1999 season - the last for UConn before moving to the FBS ranks.
The Minutemen fall to 0-1 on the season, while the Huskies start the season with a 1-0 record. UMass will host its first-ever FBS home game on Saturday, Sept. 8 as Indiana visits Gillette Stadium.
UConn's Chandler Whitmer threw for 219 yards going 15-for-25, while Lyle McCombs ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. Dwayne Gratz had a key interception return for a touchdown prior to halftime, while Taylor Mack blocked a UMass punt that was recovered for a touchdown in late in the third quarter.
Geremy Davis paced the Huskies' receiving corps with five catches for 79 yards. UConn finished the night with 372 total yards to UMass' 59.
In his collegiate debut for the Minutemen, Mike Wegzyn was 9-for-22 for 56 yards, freshman A.J. Doyle also saw action, entering the game with 8:24 remaining. Redshirt junior Rob Blanchflower made two catches for 17 yards, while freshman Tajae Sharpe had one catch for 15 yards. Chris Burns carried the ball 11 times for a total of 17 yards.