CMU's Bonamego: Give me chemo over drubbing by WMU

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Western Michigan's Jarvion Franklin gets through the Central Michigan defense on Saturday night.

Mount Pleasant – If you didn't know just how much the Central Michigan-Western Michigan rivalry means to those involved, this will give you a pretty good idea.

Following a 49-10 drubbing, at home no less, on Saturday night, CMU coach John Bonamego -- who last season battled tonsil cancer in his first year on the job -- had this to say:

"You can quote me on this. I would rather go through eight weeks of chemotherapy radiation again than lose to that team the way we lost tonight.

"That's the truth to how I feel."

Whoa.

Bonamego's roots in the rivalry run deep -- he played at Central Michigan in the 1980s, winning both times he played against Western Michigan, and he's now the head coach, losing both times he coached against the Broncos.

This one especially stung, given it was the worst rout in the series since 1970.

And it was easily the worst showing of the season for CMU (3-2), which started so strong, including a comeback victory over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State.

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The Chippewas lost a week ago to Virginia, but showed resolve in coming back from a 28-0 deficit to tie the game before eventually running out of gas.

There was no comeback this time. Not even a hint of one.

After taking a 3-0 lead, CMU watched WMU score 35 unanswered points, leaving Kelly/Shorts Stadium, full at kickoff, half-empty by the fourth quarter.

"Yeah, it hurts," said CMU senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who's had a brilliant collegiate career, but this won't be one for the highlight reel -- he was sacked seven times, threw a pick-six and had a costly first-half fumble that set up a WMU touchdown. "But it's a long season. It's how college football works. You can't hang onto that last game very long."

Amen to that, Bonamego said.

The Chippewas were outgained, 424 yards to 277. They allowed 254 rushing yards, for 6.2 per carry. So good on third downs coming into the game, that certainly wasn't the case this time, as the Broncos converted on 11 of 14 tries.

Down 21-3 at the half, Bonamego "felt like we needed a spark," so CMU decided to try an onside kick to start the second half. It recovered, only to be told by officials that the ball didn't travel far enough.

That gave Western great field position, and it scored again two plays later.

A couple weeks ago, it was looking like these in-state rivals would both enter the game with perfect records, setting up a clash for the ages.

Instead, the game revealed the obvious -- WMU is the runaway elite mid-major program in the state.

"Just getting beat like that is motivation enough," Bonamego said. "I can't wait to play again. I want to get this taste out of my mouth as quick as possible.

"It's hard to even sit up here and talk about this. Wasn't very fun."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tonypaul1984