MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Redshirt freshman kicker Ron Coluzzi drilled a 27-yard field goal as time expired to lift Central Michigan to a thrilling, come-from-behind 24-21 win over New Hampshire on Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The kick completed a rally that saw the Chippewas score 17 points in the game’s fourth quarter.
Redshirt freshman Cooper Rush led the fourth quarter rally with a pair of touchdown passes to sophomore Andrew Flory and junior Titus Davis.
"I challenged our team at halftime and they responded," said CMU head coach Dan Enos. "Our defense held New Hampshire to eight points in the second half which was a real positive and obviously our offense got on track due in large part to our freshman quarterback Cooper Rush."
"You have to give Cooper credit because it’s a tough thing being a backup quarterback and not knowing if you are going to play, then getting thrown into a tough game in the pouring rain. It’s almost unfair to do to guys, but you find out about their character. I also give a lot of credit to our freshman kicker Ron Coluzzi who did a great job when his team needed him and he delivered a big kick."
The Chippewas trailed 21-14 after a 20-yard strike to Flory with 12:16 to play in the contest and tied the game at 21 when Rush hit Davis wide open down the middle of the field for a career-long 97-yard touchdown reception.
Davis finished the day with six receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns. With 18 receiving touchdowns for his career, he moved into sole possession of fourth place in the CMU record book.
Rush came off the bench in the second quarter to make his collegiate debut and finished the game 19-for-32 with 326 yards and three touchdowns. He is the first CMU freshman quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards since Dan LeFevour, the program's all-time leading passer, totaled 314 in the air in the 2006 MAC Championship game.
A penalty following Davis’ 97-yard touchdown gave the Wildcats possession at the Central Michigan 49, but sophomore safety Kavon Frazier recovered a fumble forced by sophomore linebacker Justin Cherocci at the CMU 24 to set up the game-winning drive.
CMU took over with 4:24 to go and three-straight carries by sophomore running back Saylor Lavallii, including a career-long 42-yard scamper, moved the Chippewas into New Hampshire territory. Facing a 3rd-and-15 following a Wildcats sack, Rush found Davis for 17 yards to keep the drive alive and set up the eventual game-winning kick by Coluzzi.
The first half was all Wildcats as CMU struggled to find rhythm in the offense. New Hampshire jumped out to an early six-point lead in the first quarter but failed on a two-point conversion.
New Hampshire (0-1) outscored the Chippewas 7-0 in the second quarter and headed to halftime with a 13-0 lead.
Central Michigan (1-1) travels to UNLV next Saturday to take on the Rebels at 10 p.m. ET