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September 29, 2012

CMU opens MAC play with 55-24 loss to NIU

DeKALB, Ill. - A pair of second-half turnovers thwarted two Central Michigan comeback attempts in a league-opening 55-24 loss at Northern Illinois.

The Chippewas (2-2, 0-1 MAC) came out of the half down just 10, and struck quickly with a 92-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage when Ryan Radcliff found Titus Davis for a short completion and Davis raced away to bring Central Michigan within three, 24-21.

The defense came up with a big stop in the red zone on the Huskies' (4-1, 1-0 MAC) ensuing possession, holding Northern to a field goal and giving the offense the ball back with just a six-point deficit, 27-21.

With the Chippewas driving downfield and threatening to take the lead, a Radcliff pass inside the red zone was tipped at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Sean Progar. The first turnover of the game eventually led to a Husky field goal and a 13-point deficit for the Chippewas.

A 42-yard David Harman field goal with just over a minute left in the third, however, brought the Chippewas within 10 again, 34-24. After the Huskies were forced to punt, the Central offense appeared to continue its momentum on its first drive of the fourth quarter but a fumble by Zurlon Tipton led to more points for the Huskies, who lined up for a field goal but instead pitched the snap to kicker Mathew Sims who ran behind the holder and into the end zone for a 41-24 lead.

It was the second trick play run by Northern, which also was successful on a fake punt in the first half after they were held to 3-and-out.

Tipton reached the end zone twice in the first half. Late in the first quarter he caught a pass in the backfield and weaved his way through the defense for a 37-yard touchdown and the Chippewas' first score of the game. Then he brought the Chippewas within 10 with 2:58 left in the half when he broke two tackles and maintained his balance tiptoeing up the sideline for a 13-yard scoring run.

Northern Illinois poured on three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure its 18th consecutive win at home.

Wide receiver Cody Wilson caught eight passes for 111 yards while two Huskies gain more than 100 yards on the ground - Leighton Settle (23-152-3) and quarterback Jordan Lynch (21-144-1).

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