Bert Emanuel Jr.’s Big Night Leads Central Michigan to 31-27 Comeback Win
MT. PLEASANT – Central Michigan’s true freshman quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. ran for an astounding 293 yards and three touchdowns as the Chippewas overcame a 24-7 halftime deficit to beat Buffalo 31-27 on Wednesday night.
Emanuel Jr. had been used exclusively as a running quarterback in spots this season. Heading into the night, he had yet to attempt a pass. That role largely continued on Wednesday (he finished just 1-for-3 passing) but the Buffalo defense had no answers for him on the ground.
Emanuel Jr.’s performance was highlighted by two touchdown runs of 75+ yards in the third quarter that helped the Chippewas come storming back. His second touchdown of the third quarter, a 75-yard scamper on a play where he initially looked to be stopped after a three-yard gain, tied the game 24-24.
Buffalo retook the lead with a 54-yard field goal by Alex McNulty early in the fourth quarter.
The Chippewas responded on the ensuing drive as Emanuel Jr. ripped off runs of 17, 12 and 21 yards before punching it in from the one-yard line to put Central Michigan on top for good.
It was a gritty, tough win for the shorthanded Chippewas who badly needed something to break their way. Central Michigan came into play with all three of its top running backs injured (Lew Nichols, Marion Lukes and Myles Bailey). The Chippewas’ fourth-string running back, Christian Brown, was used as a decoy at points but did not register a carry.
Aside from Emanuel Jr., the Chippewas turned to De’Javion Stepney, a defensive back, to carry the rushing load. Stepney finished with two yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
In addition to the injuries in the ground game, the Chippewas were also without starting tight end Joel Wilson. The team announced earlier this week he will miss the rest of the season.
Trey Jones (16 tackles) and Thomas Incoom (13 tackles) led the way on defense for Central Michigan as the Chippewas shut down Buffalo in the second half. Buffalo managed just 121 yards of total offense in the second half.
The win improves Central Michigan’s record to 4-6 and keeps hope alive for the Chippewas to earn bowl eligibility. They have two games remaining in the regular season, including the rivalry game against Western Michigan next week and the season finale against Eastern Michigan.