The game was nothing short of a shootout, establishing a new mark for most total points (80) scored in the rivalry, which dates back to 1907. The previous high was 79, set in 1995, a 48-31 WMU victory.
The Broncos held on at the end Saturday in the 86th all-time meeting between the two MAC rivals. One of the most critical moments of the game came with 1:47 remaining and Western Michigan facing 4th and 2 at the Central Michigan 8-yard line. After a timeout, head coach P.J. Fleck sent his offense back out onto the field and quarterback Zach Terrell zipped a ball to Corey Davis, who snagged the ball out of the air. Davis was stopped short of the goal line, but picked up the first down and WMU was able to take a knee to run out the remaining time on the clock.
It was the second straight year Western Michigan has defeated Central Michigan and for the fourth time in five years, the Broncos hoisted the Battle for the Cannon trophy. The recent success against the Chippewas is WMU’s best five-game stretch since 2001-05.
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Braverman’s first touchdown came on an impressive 43-yard scamper in the first quarter as he caught a screen pass and bounced sideline to sideline from left to right, eluding the entire Central Michigan defense. His second touchdown was a six-yard pass over the middle in the third quarter that put WMU ahead 34-16.
Neither of those two scores, however, were as elite as his third, which helped Western Michigan take away momentum from a Central Michigan team that scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. CMU had pulled to within 34-32 after a 21-yard touchdown reception and a failed 2-point conversion that was intercepted in the end zone by Austin Lewis. On the first play of the Broncos’ following drive, Braverman took a pass from Terrell on the hook and sprinted 63 yards up the sideline to push WMU’s lead to 41-32.
The touchdown was needed as the Chippewas marched down the field and answered with one of their own, but Western Michigan hung onto the two-point lead.
Sophomore running back Jarvion Franklin carried the ball five times on the Broncos’ final drive, eating up much of the clock before Davis’ leaping catch on fourth down sealed the game. Franklin finished with a touchdown and 127 yards on 22 carries, his second 100-yard game of the season. He lowered his shoulder and bowled over a CMU defender for an 11-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter.
Terrell tied his career high with four touchdowns and completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 262 with interceptions. Three of those touchdowns went to Braverman and the fourth was to Davis, an eight-yard strike just before the end of the second quarter that gave WMU a 27-16 halftime advantage. The touchdown reception was the 25th of Davis’ career, moving him into fourth all-time at Western Michigan.
Sophomore defensive back Asantay Brown fueled the Bronco defense, making plays all over the field. In the first quarter alone, Brown had an interception, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. The interception and fumble recovery were career firsts and he finished with a career and team-high 13 tackles.
Sophomore Darius Phillips continued to give Western Michigan great field position with a strong kick return game, breaking off returns of 67 and 34 yards. He also made seven solo tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Freshman running back LeVante Bellamy provided another highlight with a career-long 58 yard reception.
After missing his first field goal attempt from 30 yards out in the first quarter, senior Andrew Haldeman put his next two field goal attempts through the uprights, making good from 25 and 34 yards.
NEXT: Western Michigan (2-3) travels to Ohio University next Saturday for a noon kickoff against the Bobcats. Central Michigan is home against Buffalo.