MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Cooper Rush threw three touchdown passes to Titus Davis and freshman Devon Spalding came off the bench to run for 147 yards and two scores Saturday as Central Michigan held on beat Miami, 34-27, in a Mid-American Conference football game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Chippewas (7-4, 5-2 MAC) have won three straight games and five of their last six. They close the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 22, at home against rival Western Michigan (7-3, 5-1).
The Chippewa defense was again solid against the run, holding the RedHawks to 102 yards on the ground. But Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix threw for 369 yards - the most by a CMU opponent this season - and two touchdowns to keep the RedHawks in it right to the very end.
"I'm proud of our guys - we found a way to win," CMU coach Dan Enos said. "It was ugly at times, but that's college football week to week. I have to give Miami a lot of credit. Their coaching staff did a great job, the guys played extremely hard. I thought their quarterback was very, very good. He made a lot of good plays for them."
Rush, who completed 16-of-23 passes for 218 yards, tossed a 9-yard TD pass to Davis with 10 minutes, 3 seconds remaining to break a 27-27 tie.
Davis finished with eight catches for 102 yards. His three TD receptions tied the CMU single-game mark.
Protecting that one-touchdown lead, Central Michigan faced a fourth down at the Miami 41 with 2:00 remaining. The Chippewas needed less than 2 feet for the first down, but Enos elected to punt. The punt went for a touchback and gave Hendrix and the RedHawks the ball at their own 20 with 1:52 remaining.
"If we would have been at the 30 or inside there, we probably would have gone for it (on fourth down)," Enos said. "But at the 41 -- and I know we hadn't been stopping them, but I thought we (could get) a punt down there inside the 10 and at least make them go 90 yards to score a touchdown to tie it. I thought that was a smart play at that time."
Hendrix drove Miami to the CMU 1-yard line with 10 seconds remaining. A sack by Justin Cherocci pushed Miami back to the 9, and four incompletions later, the game was over.
"They were first-and-goal on the 2 and Justin Cherocci makes that play," Enos said. "It was a great call by our defensive staff at that time. That, to me, was the big play of the game."
Three times in the game's final seven plays, CMU was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, the last time giving the RedHawks one final shot from the 2 with no time showing on the clock.
"Yeah we had our backs against the wall and we had a few interference calls, questionable calls, that didn't go our way," safety Tony Annese said, "but in our minds we know we have heart as a defense, we know we were going to be ready the next play.
"We just let go of the past and get ready for the next play. Hats off to our defense for coming up with some plays at the end of the game. Even though we didn't play great all day, we made plays when we needed to."
It was the second consecutive big week for Spalding, who had 154 yards and two TDs two weeks ago in a 38-7 win at Eastern Michigan. The freshman has yet to draw a start, but is firmly in the rotation of three or four featured backs that Enos employs on most weeks.
"He's very explosive, he kind of piggybacked off of (the Eastern) week," Enos said. "Devon's got another gear. I think he's the fastest back we have and he has good size. I think we has a great future."