MOUNT PLEASANT - Sophomore receiver Titus Davis had a career day with a Central Michigan season-high 208 receiving yards and a touchdown, but the Chippewas could not hold on to a nine point lead over rival Western Michigan entering the fourth quarter and fell, 42-31, on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Chippewas (3-6, 1-4 MAC) held a 23-14 lead after two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter and a 31-28 lead part way through the fourth, but the Broncos (4-6, 2-4 MAC) outscored CMU, 28-8, in the deciding fourth quarter. The game was back-and-forth throughout, with six lead changes.
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns and senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff completed 26-of-41 passes for a season-high 383 yards and a touchdown. The Chippewas topped the 500-yard total offense mark for the first time this season with 506 total yards but allowed 513 to the Broncos.
After falling behind 28-23 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Radcliff connected with Davis twice for 41 yards to set up a one-yard touchdown dive by Tipton to put CMU ahead, 29-28, with 5:24 remaining in the game.
Radcliff then found senior receiver Cody Wilson just inside the goal line on the two-point conversion to give CMU a three-point edge, 31-28.
The Broncos regained the lead, 35-31, on their next possession on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen to Eric Monette with 2:51 remaining. The Chippewas fumbled on the following kickoff return and a Western recovery at the CMU 47 set up a three-play 47 yard drive capped with a 42-yard touchdown scamper by Dareyon Chance that extended the lead to 42-31.
After trailing by one at the half, 14-13, the Chippewas scored 10 unanswered in the third quarter, beginning with a 23-yard David Harman field goal with 7:55 left in the quarter to take a 16-14 lead. A 28-yard connection between Radcliff and sophomore tight end Caleb Southworth to the WMU five-yard line set up the field goal.
The Chippewas struck again on their next possession with a 58-yard touchdown strike from Radcliff to Davis to stretch their lead to 23-14 with 4:06 remaining in the quarter.
The touchdown reception was Davis’ eighth of the season, tying his previous single-season career high from his freshman season and putting him in sixth place on the CMU all-time career touchdown reception list with 16.
The Broncos answered first in the fourth quarter as Van Tubbergen completed three consecutive passes for first downs, including a 28-yard strike to Justin Collins with 13:45 remaining in the game to cut the Chippewas’ lead to 23-21.
Though the Chippewas pinned the Broncos on their own two-yard line on a punt, Western drove 98 yards to take the lead on a 22-yard pass from Van Tubbergen to Collins with 8:52 remaining in the game.
The Chippewas struck first in the opening quarter as a 20-yard run by Zurlon Tipton and a 37-yard connection between Radcliff and Davis set up a 37-yard field goal for Harman to give the Chippewas a 3-0 lead at the 8:49 mark of the first quarter.
Radcliff completed a 22-yard pass to Wilson on the Chippewas’ next drive, followed shortly by a 27-yard pass to Davis that he hauled in at the WMU four-yard line on a jump ball. The Chippewas were stopped at the line of scrimmage on the next three plays, resulting in a 22-yard field goal by Harman for a 6-0 lead with 1:41 left in the period.
Western scored two unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, the first on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Van Tubbergen to Blake Hammond at the 13:35 mark, and the second on an 18-yard quarterback keeper, giving the Broncos a 14-6 lead.
A career-long 74-yard punt by junior Richie Hogan pinned the Broncos at their own four-yard line and four plays later senior captain Joe Kinville rushed Van Tubbergen into an interception by junior Shamari Benton, which he returned to the WMU 1-yard line. Tipton capitalized with a one-yard touchdown run to pull the Chippewas within one point at 14-13.
The Chippewas continue their season Saturday, Nov. 10, as they travel to Ypsilanti, Mich., for a 1 p.m. game against in-state foe Eastern Michigan.