Broncos Halt Streak

In front of 19,862 fans the Western Michigan University Broncos put together a 60-minute football game for the ages at Kelly Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The 2002 Broncos will be remembered as the team that ended the 28-year winless streak. The sight of seeing so many Broncos with the ear to ear smiles on their face puts a little bit of salve on an otherwise disappointing 4-8 season.

On a cloudy, cold, windy day the Broncos opened the game kicking off with the wind at their back and the temperature at 36 degrees. The Broncos defense held the Central Michigan Chippewas to a three and out. After a 17-yard punt the Broncos started their opening drive at their own 41-yardline.

In the first play for the Broncos Phil Reed who decided to play despite playing with a separated shoulder, ran for 7 yards. He became the Broncos first rusher to become the Broncos first rusher to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Robert Sanford rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2000. The Broncos then drove down the field before stalling on Central's 15-yard line. Robert Menchinger then kicked a 32-yard field goal to put the Broncos up 3-0.

The Chippewas were then held to another three and out. With a 35-yard punt, the Broncos began their second drive on their own 39-yard line. They were able to move the ball down to the Chippewas 25-yard line before Chad Munson threw his first of three interceptions when Dante McKnight picked him off at the 20-yard line.

Central Michigan was able to move the ball down to the Broncos 12-yard line before the Broncos defense made a strong stance and forced the Chippewas to kick a field goal. Mike Gruzewalski connected with a 29-yard field goal to tie the game up at 3-3.

On the Broncos next possession, Anthony Turner returned the kickoff 18-yards to the Broncos 40-yard line. The Broncos drove down the field and on a first and goal from the Chippewas 9-yard line, Munson threw his second interception to McKnight in the endzone.

After holding the Chippewas to two three and outs, the Broncos started their second scoring drive at their own 41. Aided by a 12-yard pass to Chris Chestnut, a 21-yard pass to Jermaine Lewis, and an 18-yard pass to Trovon Riley, the Broncos took the ball down to the Chippewas 2-yard line. Reed then put the Broncos ahead again with a 2-yard run giving the Broncos a 10-3 lead.

The Broncos then got the ball back after the defense held the Chippewas to another three and out. On the first play from scrimmage Munson connected with Antonio Thomas for a 20-yard completion. After driving down the field to the Broncos took the lead for good. Riley took the handoff from Munson and sprinted around the right corner and into the endzone, putting the Broncos up 1`7-3.

After the score the Broncos never looked back and headed into the locker room with a 17-3 lead. Munson finished the half with 16 completions in 24 attempts for 201 yards.

In the second half neither team could get anything going on offense until midway through the third quarter. Both teams exchanged opening drive interceptions. James King intercepted Munson at the CMU 49-yard line and Scott Robinson picked off a Kent Smith pass at the 50-yard line. After exchanging two three and outs the Broncos started another scoring drive on CMU's 44-yard line. Aided by an 11-yard run by Riley, the Broncos were able to move down to the Chippewas 8-yard line. However, the Broncos were unable to move the ball any further and settled for a 26-yard Menchinger field goal, giving the Broncos a 20-3 lead.

After the Broncos defense held the Chippewas to a three and out, a Brian Brandt punt took a Western Michigan bounce, missed three Broncos and was downed at the CMU 39 for a 14-yard punt. The Broncos drive turned into the Riley show. Anthony Kiner dropped a pass from Munson and Riley then completed runs of 5, 5, 14, 12, 2 and –2 yards before scoring on a 3-yard run. Riley's touchdown and the PAT gave the Broncos a 27-3 lead.

It wasn't until Riley fumbled at the Broncos 32-yard line, in the fourth quarter, that the Chippewas were able to do anything offensively. After McKnight forced the fumble and returned it to the Broncos 25-yard line Derrick Vickers completed a 24-yard pass to Tory Humphrey. On the next play Terrence Jackson ran 1-yard up the middle for Central Michigan's only touchdown. The score pulled the Chippewas to within 17 at 27-10.

After both teams exchanged three and outs, Kendrick Mosley returned a 52-yard Brandt punt 67 yards for another Broncos touchdown. But, due to an excessive celebration penalty, the Broncos were forced to ray a 35-yard PAT attempt. However, the kick was aborted when the snap sailed pass the holder, Jon Drach. Somehow Menchinger picked up the loose ball and as he was running forward toward the line of scrimmage he found a wide-open Mobolaji Afariogun 20 yards upfield at the 12-yard line. Menchinger then threw a beautiful pass to Afariogun who then bulled his way in for the unexpected 2-point conversion. That play gave the Broncos a 35-10 lead and eventually the win.

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