August 28, 2008

Chippewa defense strong in opener

The Central Michigan Chippewas got their season underway against the Eastern Illinois Panthers. Arguably, the story of the game was the much improved Chippewa defense. Through three quarters, the Chippewas did not allow a touchdown as the score stood 24-6 to start the fourth quarter.

CMU got the scoring started with a 20 yard field goal by kicker Andrew Aguila. The field goal was set up by a 46 yard catch by Antonio Brown.

However, the Panthers answered back only nine minutes later with a field goal of their own. EIU kicker Tyler Wilke knocked home a 29 yard field goal that capped off a 12 play, 80 yard drive that used up over four minutes of clock.

Shortly after this, the Ontario Sneed show began. Sneed proved he is fully recovered from his offseason broken arm with a spectacular 23 yard run for the score. On the play, Sneed cut the play back and completely fooled an EIU defender with a breath-taking spin move.

The Chippewas were not done scoring in the second quarter. With 1:57 to go in the half, LeFevour threaded the ball accurately through the teeth of the EIU defense; connecting with offseason Iron Chippewa Jean Pitts on the play.

Throughout the first half, the Chippewa run defense proved to be more than up to the task of stopping the hard-nosed Panthers' running attack. In the first half, EIU had 22 rushing attempts for only 3.6 yards per carry.

The Chippewa pass defense also proved to be equally effective. CMU was able to continuously pressure Panther's quarterback Bodie Reeder for three sacks. Frank Zombo and Kashawn Fraser gave the Panthers' offensive front fits.

The third quarter began with the Panthers going on a drive in excess of nine minutes. However, the Chippewa defense stood tall in the end and help Eastern Illinois to a field goal.

The Chippewas would answer back quickly. Lefevour led the offense on a 60-yard scoring drive that concluded with a scoring pass to Bryan Anderson from five yards out.

The Panthers would score at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 24-12.

On the ensuing possession, Bryan Anderson had consecutive third down catches to keep the drive alive. Ontario Sneed continued his impressive night with several strong runs to keep the drive alive. Justin Hoskins also made his 2008 Chippewa debut with 3 carries for 15 yards in sub duty.

The drive was consummated by an 11 yard pass play to a wide open Sean Skergan. This was Skergan's first career catch. Aguila made it 3/3 on the night with the extra point. With 8:02 left in the game, the Chippewas held a commanding 31-12 lead.

Tim Banks kept his defensive starters in the game for the ensuing drive, and he was rewarded with a near interception for score by Larry Knight. The Panthers were bailed out by two questionable pass interference calls against the Chippewa secondary.

Hoskins continued to perform well late in the fourth quarter. With three running backs getting carries, the EIU front seven was clearly worn down by the end of the game.

On the night, Ontario Sneed had 13 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Dan LeFevour had an efficient 21-for-31, 217 yard performance to go along with three scores.

Anderson, who had nine catches for 66 yards and a touchdown reached a few milestones. On the night, Anderson moved into third place all-time in CMU for career receptions and fourth in career yards.

Look forward to a photo gallery and quotes in the following post-game article.

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