MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Cooper Rush set the Central Michigan single-season passing yardage record and freshman Romello Ross scored four touchdowns Saturday as the Chippewas closed the regular season with a 35-28 Mid-American Conference victory over game Eastern Michigan at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The win lifted CMU to 7-5 overall and it finished 6-2 in the MAC for a share of the West Division championship under first-year coach John Bonamego. Eastern finished 1-11, 0-8.
The Chippewas will learn their bowl fate on Sunday, Dec. 6.
Martez Walker rushed for 119 yards while Ross ran for 34 and three TDs as CMU finished with a season-high 175 yards on the ground.
It was a career-high yardage total for Walker, who became the first Chippewa running back to run for 100 yards in a game this season. CMU entered the game averaging just 94.4 yards per game on the ground, third worst in the nation.
CMU overcame a 21-7 halftime deficit, scoring four TDs in the third quarter.
“First half wasn’t very much to be proud of,” Bonamego said. “Too many mistakes and penalties. I thought Eastern had a good plan against us and executed well and better than we did in the first half.
“Coming out in the second half, we showed the type of team that we are on both sides of the ball. We played very good football, complementary football, got contributions from all three phases.
“We had to settle down. We said we can’t do anything about the first half. We have had larger deficits that we have come back from in the past this year. It was ‘let’s just settle down and play our football’ and that involves everyone just going out and executing the very best they can, in the play that you are in. You can’t do anything about the one that is coming up next or the one that just happened you just have to stay in the moment and I think they took that and went with it.”
Ross ignited the Chippewas by taking a screen pass and bolting 63 yards for a score on their first play of the second half, cutting Eastern’s lead to 21-14.
CMU senior Kavon Frazier then blocked an EMU punt, giving the Chippewas possession at the Eagle 13-yard line. Two plays later, Ross scored on a 3-yard run to tie it at 21-all.
Ross capped the Chippewas’ next possession with a 17-yard TD run to make it 28-21. He became the first CMU player to score three rushing touchdowns in a game since Zurlon Tipton in 2012.
After EMU tied it on a Darius Jackson 49-yard run, the Chippewas punched back with Rush and Corey Willis connecting on a 67-yard TD pass play with under a minute to play in the third. That put CMU ahead for good.
Rush completed 25 of 39 pass attempts for 391 yards and two TDs. That gave him a CMU-record 3,703 yards for the season. Dan LaFevour held the previous mark, 3,652, which he set in 2007.
(Courtesy of CMU Athletics)