Chippewas Cruise to First Victory of Season, 44-27

Central Michigan University gained nearly 500 yards in total offense and head coach Brian Kelly got his first win at CMU as the Chippewas defeated Southeast Missouri State Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, 44-27.

Quarterback Kent Smith completed 17-of-31 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns in leading Central Michigan (1-2) to its first victory of the 2004 season.

Smith also scored twice on runs of one and five yards. His one-yard scamper on CMU's opening drive capped a nine play, 75-yard drive that consumed more than four minutes and set the tone for the game.

"With (running back) Jerry (Seymour) out, somebody else had to step-up," Smith said. "I felt more comfortable running the offense. The offensive line did a great job of blocking."

Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly was pleased with the win and the play of his quarterback.

"I was pleased with his ability to make some plays downfield," Kelly said of Smith. "He can do some things athletically and make some plays. If anyone throws for 300 yards in a game, that's a pretty good day."

Kelly also addressed the injury to star running back Jerry Seymour, who sat out the game after suffering a hip-pointer against Michigan State last week.

"We wanted to be conservative with him today," Kelly said. "Jerry's hip-pointer didn't respond so he wasn't at 100 percent. We've got a week off now to prepare for the MAC schedule."

In Seymour's place, senior running back Spencer Lewis stepped-in and stepped-up, gaining 134 yards on 28 carries.

Lewis' nine-yard TD run in the second quarter was his career first, capping a six play, 57-yard drive that led to an insurmountable 21-0 lead for CMU.

"We're never going to go away from our bread and butter which is running the football," Kelly said. "We're calling the same plays as we are with Jerry (Seymour) in there."

After a sluggish start, the Southeast Missouri State (0-3) offense got in gear following Lewis' touchdown. Quarterback Andrew Goodenough completed touchdown passes of 28 and five yards to running back David Taufoou, closing the gap to 21-13 with 1:47 remaining until halftime.

But the Chippewas responded quickly as Smith scored on a five yard keeper with 1:08 remaining to give CMU a 28-13 lead at the half.

The Chippewas extended their lead to 34-13 in the third quarter as Smith threw his second TD pass of the afternoon, an 18-yard strike to wide receiver Justin Harper.

Following Goodenough's third TD pass, which brought the Indians to within 14 points, 34-20, CMU wide receiver Damien Linson made history.

Linson returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown, the first Chippewa to do so since 1983 when Ted Hollern returned one 70 yards against Northern Illinois.

"I got some key blocks out there and was able to make a play," Linson said.

"The best way to improve a team quickly is through special teams," Kelly said. "Overall, I'm pleased with the progress we made on special teams."

The punt return capped a great day for Linson, who also caught six passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, a 32-yarder in the first quarter that made the score 14-0.

The Chippewas held their largest lead of the game at 44-20 after Linson's punt return and a 25-yard field goal by Mike Gruzwalski.

Although Kelly was pleased with his team's offensive production and improved special teams play, he was not pleased with the play of his defense.

"I didn't like the way the defense played," Kelly said. "I thought we didn't have that same fire that we had the past two weeks against Indiana and Michigan State.

The Chippewas were also assessed 140 yards in penalties Saturday, something Kelly said is totally unacceptable.

Central Michigan is idle next week and will return to action at home Saturday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. when it opens Mid-American Conference play against Kent State.

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