Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Chippewas Drop MAC Road Contest to Ball State, 44-24
MUNCIE, Ind. – Central Michigan fell behind early on and couldn’t make up ground in the second half, falling to Ball State, 44-24, on Wednesday night at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie.

Three first half turnovers, two fumbles and one interception, proved to be CMU’s undoing, as Ball State converted the miscues into 14 points en route to building a 31-3 halftime lead.

Junior receiver Titus Davis led Central Michigan (3-6, 2-3), catching nine passes for a game-high 187 yards and one touchdown. His fourth-quarter scoring reception was the 22nd of his career, moving him into a second place tie in the CMU record book with Antonio Brown.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush finished the day completing 20-of-32 passes for 284 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for his first career touchdown, a 26-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter.

Senior running back Zurlon Tipton made his first appearance since injuring his ankle in the first quarter of the season opener versus Michigan, scoring his 27th career touchdown to move into a tie for seventh place all-time in program history.

Ball State (9-1, 6-0) staked an immediate 7-0 lead, going 75 yards on nine plays in 3:51, capped off by a Keith Wenning to Jordan Williams 8-yard scoring connection on the opening drive of the game.

Senior punter Richie Hogan pinned Ball State at its own 4-yard line with a 77-yard boot late in the first quarter but the Cardinals countered with a three-play, 96-yard drive, finished off by a Wenning to Willie Snead 13-yard touchdown pass.

Down 14 points, Central Michigan was on the move late in the first quarter but a fumble by Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore ended the threat at the Cardinals 18-yard line. Ball State took advantage, driving 82 yards for a touchdown to take a 21-0 lead. Wenning found Jamill Smith with a 30-yard pass to account for the score.

CMU got on the scoreboard with 8:57 remaining in the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal from Ron Coluzzi. Rush connected with senior tight end Connor Odykirk on back-to-back pass completions to advance the Chippewas deep into Ball State territory. CMU converted on a 4th-and-6 from the Cardinal 23-yard line, with Rush hitting junior receiver Courtney Williams on a seven-yard pass, but a short run by Tipton and two incomplete passes stalled the drive.

Ball State capitalized on a Saylor Lavallii fumble late in the first half, getting a 25-yard touchdown run by Horactio Banks to earn its 28-point halftime lead.

After Ball State opened the scoring in the second half with a 31-yard field goal by Kyle Secor, CMU responded to post its first touchdown of the game. Tipton rushed in from one yard out to make the game 34-10. The big play on the drive was a 59-yard strike from Rush to Davis.

Wenning recorded his fourth passing touchdown of the game with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter, finding Willie Snead with a 1-yard scoring toss.

Early in the fourth quarter, Rush directed CMU on a 90-play scoring drive. A Shoemaker-Gilmore rush for 24 yards and a 21-yard pass reception by Andrew Flory were key to the drive. On 2nd-and-6 from the 26, Rush ran the read option to perfection, finding nothing but open space off the left side of the line to make the game 41-17.

Rush connected with Davis from 22-yards out with 1:33 remaining in the game to finish out the scoring for the game. Shoemaker-Gilmore ignited the drive with a 33-yard rush up the middle on its initial play. He finished the game with six carries for a team-high 68 yards.

After a 10-day break, Central Michigan will play its final road game of the 2013 regular season when it travels to Kalamazoo for its annual rivalry game with Western Michigan (1-8, 1-4) on Saturday, Nov. 16. The battle for the Victory Cannon is scheduled for a 12 p.m. kickoff at Waldo Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN Plus/ESPN3/ESPN Game Plan.