January 7, 2010

Chippewas defeat Troy in overtime thriller

MOBILE, Ala. -- The school-record tying 38th victory by Central Michigan's senior class may have been its most memorable.

Senior quarterback Dan LeFevour threw for a career-high 395 yards, and a trio of clutch special teams plays lifted the No. 25 Chippewas (12-2 overall) to a 44-41 double-overtime victory over Troy (9-4) in the GMAC Bowl.

Andrew Aguila's school-record fifth field goal--a 37-yarder in the second overtime--capped a comeback that saw the Chippewas rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit.

A game that featured two of the top statistical offenses in the country turned into a defensive slugfest in the first half. Levi Brown's 9-yard scoring pass to DuJuan Harris was the only touchdown in the first 30 minutes, and Troy took a 10-9 lead into halftime.

CMU capitalized on Troy's only turnover--a fumble by the Trojans' Jerrel Jernigan--to take its first lead of the game in the third quarter. The Chippewas covered 79 yards in nine plays following the fumble, with Antonio Brown scoring on a 7-yard run to cap the drive. Aguila's point-after gave CMU a 19-17 lead with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Troy regained the lead on the following possession. Brown's 29-yard throw to Jason Bruce on third-and-28 led to a 6-yard touchdown run by Harris.

CMU's only punt of the game opened the fourth quarter, and Troy appeared to have taken control of the game when Harris scored on a 1-yard run with 8:01 remaining. His score stretched the Troy lead to 31-19.

That's when the game got interesting.

Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to jump-start the Chippewas' rally.

The defense seemed poised to force a Troy three-and-out, but a screen pass to Harris covered 18 yards on third-and-18 from the Trojans' 18-yard line. Troy later punted, and Brown was forced to call for a fair catch at the CMU 15-yard line with 4:22 remaining.

With the game on the line, LeFevour directed one of the most memorable drives of his career. He hit Brown for 27 yards on second-and-15, Brown for 8 yards on third-and-2, Cody Wilson for 7 yards on third-and-4 and Brown again for 30 yards on the next snap before connecting with Bryan Anderson on a 4-yard touchdown pass to give the Chippewas the lead. Anderson stretched toward the front left pylon and fell to the ground while making the catch; the reception was reviewed in the instant replay booth but ultimately upheld. LeFevour then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Kito Poblah to give CMU a 34-31 lead with 1:17 remaining.

Jernigan returned the kickoff 32 yards to the Troy 37-yard line, and Brown completed a pair of passes to move the Trojans to the CMU 29-yard line. Michael Taylor's 46-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining forced overtime.

CMU needed just three plays to score in the first overtime period. LeFevour rushed for no gain, threw to Anderson for 12 yards and scrambled for a 13-yard touchdown to put the Chippewas in front.

Brown hit Jason Bruce for 18 yards on third-and-5 from the 20-yard line on Troy's first possession, and two plays later Shawn Southward tied the score on a 1-yard run.

Troy's offense remained on the field to begin the second overtime period. After stalling the Chippewas' 14-yard line, and Taylor lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt. CMU's Vince Agnew raced untouched around Troy's right end and blocked the field goal attempt, giving the Chippewas an opportunity to win the game.

Three-yard runs by Brown and Bryan Schroeder moved the ball to the Troy 19-yard line, and Aguila booted the game-winning field goal from 37 yards out.

The two teams combined for 1,076 yards of total offense, including 798 through the air. LeFevour completed 33-of-55 passes en route to his career-high 395 yards, while Troy's Brown was 31-of-56 for 386 yards. Both quarterbacks threw one touchdown pass.

Brown was the game's top receiver, catching 13 passes for a career-high 178 yards. He finished with a career-high 403 all-purpose yards (178 receiving, 22 rushing, 203 kickoff return), the third-highest total in school history.

Nick Bellore paced the Chippewa defense with 14 tackles, while Frank Zombo recorded a career-high three sacks in his final game.

LeFevour was named the GMAC Bowl Most Valuable Player. Brown was selected offensive MVP, Agnew defensive MVP and Aguila special teams MVP.

The Chippewas' 12 victories in 2009 tied a school record set in 1974. The GMAC Bowl victory was CMU's second win in a Division I bowl game.



 

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