KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Shane Morris threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Corey Willis with 2:37 remaining, and Central Michigan rallied to beat defending Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan 35-28 on a rainy Wednesday night to win the Cannon Trophy in the 88th meeting.
At halftime, Central Michigan (5-4, 2-3) only had two first downs and trailed 21-7 after being outgained 269-82.
Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin fumbled early in the fourth quarter and Jonathan Ward pulled Central Michigan to 28-21 on a 29-yard touchdown run. CMU blocked a punt on Western Michigan’s next possession and Ward’s 35-yard run on first down set up Eric Cooper’s touchdown grab in the end zone to tie it at 28 with 5:50 left.
Central Michigan’s squib kick bounced off a WMU player and the Chippewas recovered it before going three-and-out. CMU got the ball back with 2:47 left at its 23 and Willis scored one play later on Morris’ deep throw. Western Michigan turned it over on downs near midfield and Ward ran for a first down to run out the clock.
Morris was 12-of-30 passing for 243 yards and one touchdown for Central Michigan. Ward rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown for the Chippewas, who were without the nation’s sack leader in Joe Ostman.
Franklin became the career touchdown leader for Western Michigan (5-4, 3-2). He was untouched on a 47-yard scoring run on the first possession of the game to break a program record with his 53rd career touchdown. He entered tied with Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick this year in the NFL draft.
Franklin rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns for his fourth straight 100-yard game for Western Michigan (5-3, 3-1). He topped the century mark after just eight first-quarter carries. He added a 9-yard TD on WMU’s second drive after halftime for a 27-14 lead.
Freshman Reece Goddard made his first career start for Western Michigan after starter Jon Wassink was injured against Eastern Michigan. Goddard was 6-for-18 passing for 42 yards and carried it 14 times.