MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan football closed out its 2012 nonconference schedule Friday with a 31-13 loss to the Navy Midshipmen. It was fitting that the game was against Navy because the Chippewas celebrated Military Day throughout the game, paying tribute to the men, women and various military factions who serve our country.
At the start of the game, Central Michigan’s defense played soft against Navy’s veer attack. The Midshipmen marched down the field and scored a touchdown on its first drive, as quarterback Keenan Reynolds hit receiver Brandon Turner on a 23-yard strike. The Mids opening drive ate up 3:17 off the clock and went eight plays for 74 yards.
However, the Chippewas did not lay down. Kick returner Saylor Lavallii grabbed the ensuing kickoff and scampered 69 yards into Navy territory, which ultimately led to a stalled Chippewas drive in the red zone that only netted a 29-yard David Harmon field goal.
Navy would then respond quickly, driving 66 yards on 11 plays. The Mids improved its total to 14-3 by scoring on a 19 yard Reynolds pass to Gee Gee Greene. The Chips defense continued to look lost against the veer.
After another drive stalled, Navy kicker Nick Sloan nailed a 37-yard field goal. Navy was up 17-3.
At this point in the game, there was more excitement surrounding the Chippewas when the t-shirt cannon came out than when the team had the ball. But with 3:10 left in the first half, quarterback Ryan Radcliff led the Chips down the field 75 yards in only six plays to score the Chippewas only touchdown of the game right before the first half ended. That was also the only time in the game that the offense actually showed any kind of urgency.
CMU walked into halftime down 17-10.
After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Chippewas were able to get far enough into Navy territory for a second Harman field goal. This time he nailed it from 22 yards out, making the score at that point 17-13. The problem was that field goals were not good enough to keep the game close against the Mids.
Navy would return CMU’s score by answering with a two-yard rush punched into the end zone by Prentice Christian. As soon as CMU got the ball back, another one of its drives stalled. This time its woes on offense enabled the Mids to pass for another touchdown. Reynolds connected from 41 yards pit tp Greene to make the score 31-13. That TD pass made Reynolds the first Midshipmen to pass for three touchdowns in a game since 1997.
From then on out, the Chippewas traded punts with Navy throughout the entire fourth quarter, where no team would end up scoring.
The Chippewas set themselves up for failure in this game by allowing Navy to score in all three of its trips to the red zone and by converting four of its first four fourth downs into first downs. It was definitely a brutal recipe of disaster for Dan Enos and the gang to work with.
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The Chippewas have faced the Midshipmen three times historically and have yet to pull away with a victory. CMU lost to Navy 63-34 in 2003 and 38-37 in 2010.
Friday night marked the start of a four-game home stand for the Chippewas. CMU will host MAC foes Ball State, Akron and in-state rival Western Michigan the next three weeks before heading to Eastern Michigan Nov. 10.