Late Heroics Lead CMU Past WMU, 34-31

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Dan LeFevour scored on a quarterback sneak with 12 seconds remaining to cap a stunning final six minutes and lift Central Michigan University to a 34-31 win at Western Michigan Tuesday night.

The win secures the Chippewas' second consecutive Mid-American Conference West Division title and a repeat appearance in the MAC Championship Game. CMU (6-4 overall, 5-0 MAC, 4-0 MAC West) will face a to-be-determined opponent from the East Division at 11 a.m. at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 1.

A game that many expected to be a shootout turned into a defensive slugfest through three quarters. Both offenses came to life in the fourth quarter, however, combining for 48 points as the lead changed hands three times in the closing minutes.

It was a stirring finish to a back-and-forth contest that will go into the history books as one of the classic affairs in the Central-Western rivalry.

LeFevour and Antonio Brown hooked up for a 14-yard touchdown with 6:03 remaining that put CMU in front 24-17. Calvin Hissong intercepted WMU quarterback Tim Hiller on the ensuing possession, and Andrew Aguila converted a 21-yard field goal with 3:53 left that extended the Chippewas' lead to 27-17.

Hiller drove the Broncos 57 yards in eight plays to pull them within a field goal, 27-24, with 2:07 left. He hit Herb Martin on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line to cap the drive.

Western Michigan's Mike Jones banged the kickoff through the end zone for a touchback, and on third-and-5 from the CMU 25 LeFevour was stripped from behind. WMU's Londen Fryar recoverd the fumble, and Brandon West scored on a 15-yard run two plays later that put the Broncos in front, 31-27, with just 1:34 remaining.

Brown returned the kickoff to the 35-yard line, and LeFevour hit Bryan Anderson for 15 yards on first down to move the ball to midfield. A pass interference penalty on third down advanced the ball to the Western Michigan 40-yard line, where on second down LeFevour pump faked and hit Anderson up the seam for 39 yards to the WMU 1-yard line. LeFevour pushed across for the game-winning score on third-and-goal.

Western Michigan (3-7 overall, 2-4 MAC, 2-3 MAC West) would not go quietly however. The Broncos had one snap from their own 27-yard line, and used several laterals to advance the ball into CMU territory before the ball finally skipped out of bounds with no time left on the clock.

Central Michigan tallied just 112 yards of offense in the first half and trailed, 7-3, entering the locker room. Western Michigan missed out on an opportunity to add to its lead early in the game; the Broncos had intercepted LeFevour just two plays after Mark Bonds scored on a 3-yard run, but a low snap on a potential 31-yard field goal attempt prevented the Broncos from adding to their early 7-0 lead.

Justin Hoskins capped CMU's opening possession of the third quarter with a 3-yard scoring run that put the Chippewas in front for the first time at 10-7.

Jones hit a 33-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to even the score at 10-10. LeFevour began to take over the game from there, accounting for 62 of CMU's 64 yards on the ensuing drive to put the Chippewas back in front, 17-10. He completed two passes for 23 yards and ran three times for 39 yards on the march, including a 5-yard scoring run in which he was flushed out of the pocket to the left and broke back to the right side of the field for the score.

Hiller hit a wide open Branden Ledbetter for 65 yards down the middle of the field on the first play following the kickoff, and the pair connected again from 3 yards out to knot the score at 17 just 1:22 after LeFevour had put CMU in front.

The teams then exchanged punts to set up the wild finish.

LeFevour became CMU's all-time leader in total offense in the win. He completed 23-of-38 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 72 yards and two scores. Anderson caught seven passes for 120 yards.

Red Keith and Ike Brown paced the CMU defense with 14 and 10 tackles, respectively.

CMU is back in action on Friday, Nov. 16, hosting Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. Comcast Local will televise the Chippewas' final home contest of 2007. The Chippewas can defend their Michigan MAC championship with a win over the Eagles.

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