Chips Clinch MAC West, 34-31 Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Wednesday, November 07 2007
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Photo: Jim Klapthor
Kalamazoo, MI - In a wild ending to a madcap fourth quarter, Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour scored from one-yard out with twelve seconds remaining to lead the Chippewas to a 34-31 victory before 16,952 at Waldo Stadium Tuesday night. The win clinched the MAC West title for Central Michigan for the second straight year.

The game, played in sub-freezing temperatures, got off to a sluggish start with both teams struggling to put up points in a surprising defensive battle that saw Central Michigan clinging to a 10-7 lead after three quarters of play. Then the fireworks erupted with both offenses kicking into high gear and accounting for a combined 48 points in the final stanza.

"We really weren't doing anything different than what were doing earlier in the game," noted Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones afterward. "We just started to execute our schemes better and execute our offense and some guys really stepped up. I thought in the first half that Dan (LeFevour) was looking to run instead of pushing the pocket but he did a better job of that in the second half and that's where a lot of his big runs came into play."

LeFevour led Central Michigan with 72 yards rushing and was 23-38 for 235 yards passing and scored on a five-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter to give Central Michigan a 17-10 lead with 11:57 remaining.

But the Broncos responded quickly as both teams put on a manic display of offense that saw both teams combining for 386 yards of offense after putting up a combined 414 yards through the first three quarters of play.

After LeFevour's early fourth-quarter go-ahead touchdown, the Broncos responded on their next possession, scoring on a four-play 77-yard drive as tight end Brandon Ledbetter scored on a three-yard reception which followed his 65-yard catch earlier in the short scoring drive. For Ledbetter the 65-yard reception was a career long and his touchdown reception was the thirteenth of his career, tying him for the top spot with Tony Scheffler for career touchdowns by a tight end at Western Michigan.

The Chippewas appeared to have matters in hand though when Calvin Hissong intercepted a Tim Hiller pass deep inside Western Michigan territory, setting up a 21-yard Andre Aguila field goal to boost CMU's lead to 27-17 with under four minutes remaining but the Broncos responded again when Tim Hiller connected with Herb Martin on a three-yard scoring strike to pull within 27-24 with 2:07 remaining.

The Broncos however were far from finished.

Facing third down and five from their own 25-yard line and likely needing only a first down to put the game away, Central Michigan turned the ball over when LeFevour was hit by Dustin Duclo, jarring the ball loose. WMU defensive back Londen Fryar quickly pounced on the loose ball and the Broncos set up shop at the Central Michigan 25-yard line and made quick work of the Chippewas' stunned defense, scoring in two plays, capped off by Brandon West's 15-yard run that gave the Broncos a 31-27 lead with 1:34 remaining.

Then it was time for the Chippewas to display some late game heroics of their own.

Central Michigan started the game-winning drive at its own 35-yard line and, after moving the ball to midfield, their drive appeared to have stalled but a critical pass interference call on third down against Western Michigan's Anthony Gebhart, his second of the game, kept the drive going.

After a pass intended for Antonio Brown was incomplete, LeFevour connected with Bryan Anderson for a 39-yard gain to the one-yard line.

"I didn't think about it too much, all I did was focus on the ball," said Anderson afterward.

Following Anderson's reception LeFevour pushed the ball across the goal line on third down from the one-yard line with twelve seconds remaining, clinching the victory and sending Central Michigan to Detroit for the second straight year as champions of the MAC West.

"We knew we could move the ball," said Anderson when discussing the Chippewas' game wining drive. We practice that two-minute drill and we actually got to use it today."

"I ran a dig and go," Anderson continued, explaining how he was able to get open for the catch that set up the game-wining touchdown. "I cut in like I was running a dig and Danny (LeFevour) pump faked and I went vertical and that's how I got so open, said Anderson who was surprised to find himself so wide open." I didn't think they would bite that hard (on the pump fake). I thought they would be playing off so that we couldn't go deep on them since we needed a touchdown."

After the game Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit was in a somber mood and recounted the three tough, last-minute losses that the Broncos have had this season, dropping contests to Akron, Ball State and now Central Michigan at home in the closing moments.

"We fought and played hard. It's a tough pill to swallow," said Cubit. "It's just really hard because it's now three games like this where we haven't come out on top. The second and third quarter (WMU QB Hiller) was really out of synch and he made some misreads but then he came on late for us."

The Broncos were also without their biggest playmaker, wide receiver Jamarko Simmons, who was ejected in the first quarter after being called for a personal foul for kicking at the head of Central Michigan linebacker Red Keith.

"That kind of thing happens all the time in college football," said Cubit discussing Simmons' ejection. "The guy grabs his ankles and he tries to get away and they (the officials) think he kicks him. He's just trying to get off the ground, it happens all the time. I don't understand it."

The loss of Simmons, according to Cubit had a significant impact on Western Michigan's offensive attack. "Shoot, he's the guy we move all around. He's the leading receiver in the league."

But for Central Michigan, the feeling was jubilant as they defeated Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium for the first time since 1993 and have a chance to repeat as MAC Champions when they head to Detroit's Ford Field on December 1 to face an as yet undetermined opponent in the MAC Championship Game and will likely make a second straight appearance in the Motor City Bowl.

"That was a great rival game," said Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones after the game. "Repeating as champion is the toughest thing to do in college football. When we had that ball with just a little over a minute to go, the look in every man's eyes was 'we're going to get this done coach.' I can't say enough about everyone in our program."

Central Michigan is off now until November 16 when they return home to face Eastern Michigan while the Broncos travel to Iowa on November 17.

Last Updated ( Thursday, November 08 2007 )
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