Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
CMU Drops Season Opener to Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For the first time in three seasons, the Central Michigan football team dropped its season opener, falling to No. 17 Michigan on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium, 59-9.

Redshirt junior Cody Kater made his first career start at quarterback for the Chippewas and connected with Courtney Williams for a 17-yard completion on his first attempt of the season but left the game later in the first quarter and did not return.

After the Chippewas’ opening drive stalled, the Wolverines blocked the ensuing punt attempt and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The Chippewas had their first scoring opportunity of the contest after junior Jarret Chapman intercepted a Devin Gardner pass attempt at the Michigan six-yard line. Redshirt sophomore Alex Niznak entered at quarterback but was unable to get the Chippewas in the end zone and CMU settled for a 23-yard field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Ron Coluzzi.

The field goal was the first of three for Coluzzi in the contest. CMU was unable to find the end zone in the game, as Zurlon Tipton, who accounted for 20 scores in 2012, left the game late in the first quarter and did not return.

After the Wolverines went up 21-3 on a Fitzgerald Toussaint touchdown run with 14:56 in the second quarter, the Chippewas put together four first downs and moved the ball to the Michigan 33-yard line. The drive stalled and CMU was forced to punt.

CMU quickly got the ball back on the Wolverines’ first play of their next drive as junior cornerback Jason Wilson intercepted Gardner and returned it to the Michigan 29. The interception set up Coluzzi’s second field goal of the game to pull CMU within 21-6.

Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 16-yard touchdown on the Wolverines’ next possession and later scampered in from four-yards out to give the Maize and Blue a 35-6 halftime lead.

The Wolverines’ defense continued to halt the Chippewas’ offense in the third quarter, allowing U-M to put the game out of reach.

Coluzzi capped the Chippewas’ scoring with a 33-yard field goal with 11:49 remaining in the contest.

Sophomore running back Saylor Lavallii averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the contest, finishing with 52 yards on 10 rushes to lead the Chippewas’ offense. Niznak went 11-for-22 with 131 yards and an interception in his first career appearance.

“I’ll be ready to go next week against New Hampshire,” Niznak said. “This was a great opportunity for me to get my feet wet in college football. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to play University of Michigan. Coach Hoke and his program is obviously a national powerhouse and when you grow up in the state of Michigan you understand that, so I give them a lot of a respect but, at the same time, I wouldn’t trade the five offensive lineman that carried me this whole game or any of our receivers for anyone on the other side of the ball.”

Sophomore Andrew Flory had four receptions for 79 yards to the CMU receivers.

Senior safety Avery Cunningham and Wilson led CMU with eight tackles each while sophomore Kavon Frazier finished the afternoon with seven tackles and an interception.

The Chippewas will host New Hampshire next Saturday in their home opener at 3 p.m. in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.