Jonathan Ward rolled up 205 combined yards in rushing and receiving and scored three touchdowns as the Chippewas posted a resounding 42-16 Mid-American Conference victory over Eastern Michigan before 15,235 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
"Heck of a win," first-year CMU coach Jim McElwain said. "(Eastern) was a good . . .
"Complete win, offensively and defensively. My hat's off to our guys. I can tell you, this team has come light years. Can't tell you how much I like this team and how proud I am of them."
The win lifted the Chippewas to 3-3, 2-1 MAC and came one week after they lost, 31-15, at rival Western Michigan. EMU is 3-2, 0-1.
The Chippewas used the big play in rolling up season-highs in rushing yards (308) and total yards (587).
Among Ward's three TDs were a 64-yard pass play and an 86-yard run. The Chippewas also got a 28-yard TD run from Kobe Lewis and an 80-yard TD pass play from Kalil Pimpleton.
The Chippewas built a 21-3 halftime lead and increased it to 28-3 midway through the third quarter.
"One of the things that we have been lacking are early scores and explosive plays," McElwain said. "We've moved the ball pretty well throughout the year at times. We needed to get some explosives in; today we finally got some."
Ward finished with 132 yards the ground, while Lewis added 81. Both carried 12 times. Ward caught three passes for 73 yards. Pimpleton led the Chippewas with 112 yards on five catches. CMU quarterback David Moore completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for 279 yards and two TDs.
The early lead helped to make the Eagles one-dimensional, and the Chippewa defense teed off, collecting five sacks among 10 tackles-for-loss. They held Eastern to 77 yards rushing.
The victory could be a turning point for the Chippewas, who won just one game a season ago and now stand at .500 at midway through the regular season.
"You've got to go out and prove if it's turned the corner," McElwain said. "I believe in this team, I really do, and yet we've got to continue to grow, we've got to continue to understand how to go about your daily business to be successful.
"I know how far they've come, I know how far this program has come in a short, short period of time. Yet I'm not sure we've shown it on the field. We've shown it at times. Hopefully we answered some questions of ourselves and we can build on that as we move forward."