Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
ATHENS, Ohio – Welcome back, Tyler Conklin.
And welcome to the Mid-American Conference race, Central Michigan.
Conklin made his 2017 debut a memorable one on Saturday as he made 10 catches for 136 yards – both career highs -- and two touchdowns in leading the Chippewas to a 26-23 victory over Ohio before 23,570 at the Bobcats’ Peden Stadium.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak and was the Chippewas’ first in the MAC this season. CMU is 3-3, 1-1 league. The Chippewas ended Ohio’s three-game win streak. The Bobcats are 4-2, 1-1.
Conklin, who missed the Chippewas’ first five games with a foot injury, made his presence felt almost immediately. His first catch went for 19 yards on the Chippewas’ first possession, which ended in a 16-yard Conklin touchdown catch from quarterback Shane Morris.
Trailing 14-7 with 6 seconds left in the first half, the Chippewas blocked an Ohio field goal attempt and Sean Bunting scooped up the loose ball and raced 60 yards to pull CMU to within a point, 14-13, at the break.
Jonathan Ward put CMU in front for good with a 1-yard run, capping the first possession of the second quarter, a 10-play, 65-yard CMU drive.
Morris connected with Conklin on a 10-yard scoring pass with 10:16 to play to extend the Chippewas’ lead to 26-14.
The Bobcats made it interesting when they blocked a CMU punt out of the end zone for a safety with under eight minutes to play, drawing to 26-16, and then quarterback Nathan Rourke scored from 3 yards out with 5:01 remaining to make it 26-23.