Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Shane Morris threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns on Saturday as Central Michigan ran past Kansas, 45-27, in a nonconference game at the Jayhawks’ Memorial Stadium.
The win was CMU’s second straight over a Big 12 opponent after last year’s 30-27 Hail Mary stunner at Oklahoma State. It also came a week after a lackluster performance in a triple-overtime season-opening win over Rhode Island.
“Great victory for us,” CMU coach John Bonamego said. “The team showed a lot of resiliency, poise, big improvement from a week before. We still have a lot of work to do, we still have a lot we have to clean up on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. But the effort was there, the belief was there, and the culture was there. Really happy to come out here and get a win.”
Morris, a graduate transfer from Michigan, completed 28 of 37 pass attempts in his second game as a Chippewa. He threw three TD passes to Mark Chapman, and one each to Corey Willis and Logan Hessbrook.
“We started clicking,” Morris said. “It’s a beautiful thing, football, when you execute what you practice all week.”
Both Willis and Chapman caught eight passes. That number tied Willis’ career high and set a career-high for Chapman. Chapman finished with 168 yards, his career best. Willis finished with 140 yards, just five yards shy of his career best.
“Our offensive production was outstanding and (offensive coordinator) Chris (Ostrowsky) called a good game, Shane Morris executed the offense, the receivers ran and got open and caught balls and we were able to grind some yards out in the run game as well,” Bonamego said. “When we play well, when we make the plays that are out there, I think we’re capable of playing with anybody.”
The Chippewas were nearly flawless in the first half in seizing a 24-6 lead.
Kansas (1-1) drew to 24-20 with two scores in the first 6 minutes, 10 seconds of the third quarter.
Then it was CMU’s turn to respond. Morris drove the Chippewas 73 yards in seven plays and Devon Spalding danced in from a yard out to again make it a two-score game, 31-20.
CMU extended its lead to 38-20 when Morris found Chapman with a 7-yard TD pass on fourth down with 13:28 remaining, capping an 11-play, 91-yard drive.
“We had a chance to get a first down and the way it worked out the ball found Mark in the end zone for the touchdown,” Bonamego said. “The way they were moving the ball in the second half I didn’t feel like it was in our best interest to just settle for field goals.
“Our defense got it together and came up with some key stops in the fourth quarter. Credit to them.”
The Chippewas finished with 590 yards in total offense. Alex Briones led the Chippewa defense with 10 tackles, while Darwyn Kelly had seven. The Chippewas sacked Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender twice and intercepted him two times.
“We got to him a few times,” Bonamego said. “I don’t know how many times we hit him, but we got to him a bunch.”
The Chippewas go to Syracuse of the ACC next Saturday.