CMU football escapes with OT win on opening night

Central Michigan football faced Rhode Island in Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Aug. 31, 2017.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite entering the game as a four-touchdown favorite, it took multiple overtimes for Central Michigan football to come away with a win.

The Chippewas offense struggled to get into rhythm throughout the night, but managed to come away with a 30-27 win against FCS opponent Rhode Island.

Senior running back Devon Spalding scored the winning touchdown for the Chippewas, finishing the game with 70 yards and the score.

“If you’d tell me we had almost 500 yards of offense and only scored 21 points in regulation with six interceptions on defense, I’d be shocked,” head coach John Bonamego said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of lessons from this game.”

Turnovers were the difference maker as the Chippewas came away with six interceptions. It was the most CMU had in a game since 1990.

Despite the turnovers, the Rams never trailed by more than 13 throughout the game.

Bonamego said there was plenty of blame to go around for the reason why Rhode Island kept the game so close and that the team needs to execute better before playing its next game.

Rhode Island trailed throughout the first three quarters until they tied up the game at 21-21 in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Rhode Island also completed a 56-yard touchdown and an 80-yard touchdown during the game.

CMU appeared to be pulling away in the fourth quarter after a 36-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Johnathan Ward. He finished the game with 147 yards on 19 carries and the score.

The game’s first points didn’t come until the second quarter, when CMU connected on a 22-yard field goal.

CMU added to its lead less than five minutes later on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Michigan transfer Shane Morris to sophomore wide receiver Brandon Childress.

It was the first touchdown Morris has thrown since he was a senior at Warren De La Salle High School.

Morris was in a position battle with redshirt freshman Tony Poljan, who Bonamego has openly admitted CMU “is building the program around.” Poljan didn’t appear in the game until late in the third quarter, completing 3-of-5 passes for 27 yards and no touchdowns.

“We wanted to see them both play in the game,” Bonamego said. “It’s a situation that’s still fluid, but (Morris) is a little bit ahead.”

Bonamego said he wants to get Poljan on the field throughout the season in order to prepare for the team’s future.

Poljan only played two series until being replaced by Morris in the fourth quarter.

CMU’s next game will be at 4 p.m. Sept. 9 at Kansas.