Cullen Maksimowski, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Explosive offense and suffocating defense were on display Saturday, as the Central Michigan football team downed Monmouth, 31-10, at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The victory is the first of the season for CMU, who move to 1-1,and improve their record to 24-3 all-time against Football Championship Subdivision opponents.
The Chippewas defense restricted Monmouth to just 27 total yards through the first half in building a 31-3 advantage at the break.
The Hawks did not gain a first down until less than six minutes remained in the first half, and that came via a CMU penalty.
“I thought in the first half our defense was outstanding,” said CMU coach John Bonamego. “I mean we just smothered them, you keep giving us field position and possession, we’re going to move the ball and score points.”
Monmouth’s star running back Lavon Cheney was limited to just 17 yards, and was hampered by an injury. Cheney rushed for 99 yards in Monmouth’s season opener against Holy Cross.
“It wasn’t too much of an adjustment, we kind of knew that he got banged up a little bit that first game, so we were kind of ready for the backup,” CMU senior linebacker Tim Hamilton said.
Kavon Frazier led the Chippewas in tackles for the second consecutive game, notching seven tackles and a pass breakup.
Frazier was named the Mid-American Conference West Defensive Player of the Week for his performance last week against Oklahoma State.
Hamilton also had a solid day, registering six solo tackles, which tied his career high.
Junior Tony Annese gave CMU its first forced turnover of the season when he made an interception late in the fourth quarter. It was the sixth of Annese’s career.
Tyree Waller and Nate Brisson-Fast each recorded a sack in the win. It was Brisson-Fast’s first sack of his career.
Junior defensive end Joe Ostman left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. He was seen on the CMU sideline on crutches and in street clothes in the second half.
“Joey is going to be fine, X-Rays came back negative, I still don’t have a lot of details in terms of exactly what it is,” Bonamego said. “It’s a lower leg injury. We’ll probably know more in the next couple of days if he’s going to miss time and how long it is.”
Senior defensive end Blake Serpa made his 2015 debut after sitting out in the season opener against Oklahoma State with an injury.
Serpa started all 13 games last season, and shared the team lead with four sackes and led the Chippewas with 12 ½ tackles-for-loss. He came off the bench against Monmouth.
“Blake felt good, it was a good game for him, great to see him back on the field,” Bonamego said. “We’ll increase his workload this coming week for sure.”
• Junior quarterback Cooper Rush moved to No. 4 on CMU’s career passing yards list, passing Pete Shepherd who amassed 5,754 from 1997-2000.
Rush, a junior who on Saturday made his 25th consecutive start, now has thrown for 6,059 career yards. Jeff Bender (1988-91) is third on the list with 6,528 yards.
• Senior tight end Ben McCord set a career high in receiving yards with 100 yards and a touchdown on two catches.
McCord’s TD reception covered 83 yards. He broke free from a falling linebacker at midfield, cradled Rush’s aerial, and cruised untouched to the end zone.
“He is a weapon, the guy blocks well, he can run, and he can make plays in space once he gets running,” Bonamego said of McCord.
• Receivers Corey Willis and Mark Chapman, both sophomores, each scored their first career touchdowns in the game.
Chapman’s came on an 11-yard run to cap CMU’s game-opening drive, and Willis’ came on a 17-yard pass from Rush in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Chapman finished with a team-high six catches, matching the career-best he set last week against Oklahome State.
• Running backs Jahray Hayes and Jay Roberson carried the ball for the first time as Chippewas.
Hayes, a junior transfer from City College of San Francisco, rushed for 32 yards on seven carries, and Roberson, a sophomore, ran four times for six yards.
Ron Coluzzi punted three times for a 31-yard average and averaged 62.5 yards on six kickoffs with two touchbacks.
Place kicker Brian Eavey connected on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, and is a perfect three-for-three this season. He was good on all four of his extra-point attempts on Saturday and is perfect (five-for-five) this season in that department as well.