YPSILANTI, Mich. - Paris Cotton ran for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead Central Michigan to a 52-14 Mid-American Conference win at Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Cotton scored on runs of 13 yards, 1 yard and 61 yards to power a CMU offense that racked up 523 total yards.
The Chippewas improved to 2-1 overall, 1-1 in the MAC with the victory. The Eagles fell to 0-3, 0-2 in the MAC.
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The Chippewas took a 7-0 lead on their second possession and led the rest of the way. Ryan Radcliff connected with Cody Wilson for a 21-yard touchdown pass on third-and-20 to put the Chippewas in front.
Eastern Michigan was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, and Radcliff led the Chippewas on another scoring march. Radcliff kept the drive alive with an 18-yard throw to Cedric Fraser on third-and-10 from the CMU 10-yard line, then hooked up with Cotton for 16 yards and Wilson for 33 yards on the next two snaps to set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Cotton.
CMU drove inside the Eagles' 10-yard line early in the second quarter before Cotton fumbled on first-and-goal. The teams then exchanged punts before Dwayne Priest capped a nine-play, 64-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to draw the Eagles within 14-7.
The Chippewas answered with their third scoring drive of the half. Cotton's 1-yard scoring run finished off a seven-play, 72-yard drive that lasted just 1:45. Cotton carried five times for 39 yards on the drive, while Kito Poblah had a 14-yard rush and EMU was flagged for a personal foul penalty.
Cotton's 61-yard scoring run came on the third play of the third quarter and extended the Chippewas' lead to 28-7.
The teams traded punts before EMU's Alex Gillett hit Donald Scott with a 52-yard touchdown pass on third-and-8. The touchdown throw, which came with 8:09 left in the third quarter, was the first touchdown pass given up by the Chippewas this season.
Radcliff answered with his second scoring pass of the game, a 14-yard throw to Poblah, on CMU's next possession that bumped the Chippewas' lead back to 21 points.
The defense added a touchdown of its own early in the fourth quarter. Alex Smith stripped Gillett, and Mike Petrucci returned the loose ball 43 yards for a touchdown. David Harman converted a 41-yard field goal and Zurlon Tipton scored on a 20-yard run to provide the final margin.
Armond Staten finished with a career-high 13 tackles to lead the CMU defense. Bobby Seay Jr. chipped in eight tackles.
The defense forced eight Eastern Michigan punts, two fumbles and two turnovers on downs.
COACH ENOS POSTGAME
"Obviously we thought we came back from our disappointing overtime loss against Temple. We really challenged our players this week to refocus, and we knew this was going to be a very energized Eastern Michigan team. Eastern Michigan had chances to win both of their first two games, and you can see the difference in their team watching the tape from last year to this year. We knew it was going to be a challenge and we were going to need to play well. Without watching the tape, the thing right off the bat is against Temple we weren't able to really generate any explosive plays on offense. We really challenged our team that we were going to have to do that today, and fortunately we were able to get some of those."
On the performance of Paris Cotton:
"That's how he practices. The way you saw out there today, he practices like that every day. He's full speed all the time. He laid the ball on the ground too many times, but he gives tremendous effort, he's explosive, he's fast, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and it didn't surprise anyone in our program that he was able to have a breakout game. We would hope that he can continue to play at a high level the rest of the year."
On the Chippewas' defense:
"Can't say enough about them. Three games thus far, and the 14 points today was the most we have given up. That's a tribute to our players and our defensive coaches. They're doing a great job. We're playing fast and making plays. Eastern Michigan moved the ball at times today, and our defense just kept hanging in there."
On the offensive gameplan:
"We felt we had some good matchups with the wideouts, and if we got them in certain formations with play-action we could throw the ball down the field. That's what we wanted to do early."
On the play of Ryan Radcliff:
"He looked very comfortable out there. He's coming off the field with great information about what he's seeing and that's a really good sign with a young quarterback."