Saturday's state college football: Central Michigan gives Missouri a tough test but falls short

Dave Skretta
Associated Press

Columbia, Mo. — Tyler Badie ran for 185 yards with touchdowns on the ground and through the air, and Connor Bazelak threw for 257 yards and two scores, helping Missouri hold off Central Michigan 34-24 on Saturday.

Elijah Young also had a touchdown run for the Tigers, who found themselves in a 14-14 tussle late in the first half before eventually pulling away. Bazelak clinched the win with a TD pass to Niko Hea that made it 31-21 in the final minutes.

Central Michigan assistant head coach Tim Skipper, center, runs on the field during a timeout during the first half. Skipper replaced head coach Jim McElwain who did not make the trip.

Washington transfer Jacob Sirmon threw for 292 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Central Michigan. Lew Nichols III, the reigning Mid-American Conference freshman of the year, finished with 135 yards rushing and a score.

The game probably felt a bit strange for Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, who didn’t have the benefit of a full stadium – or even a nonconference game – during his first season in Columbia. In fact, Drinkwitz was given the unsavory task of facing Alabama to open a Southeastern Conference-only schedule in his first year after leaving Appalachian State.

“Especially when you’re going to feel the pressure of the home crowd and it’s a team you’re supposed to beat,” Drinkwitz said, “and I just kind of felt all week like we’d be in this kind of game.”

It was probably even more bizarre for Jim McElwain.

The Central Michigan coach, no stranger to the SEC from his time in Florida, underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday. His doctors told him not to make the trip Saturday, leaving him to watch from afar as longtime assistant and newly minted associate head coach Tim Skipper handled game day.

“I’m very proud of those guys,” Skipper said. “We came here on a mission, to get a ‘W’ and play hard and gain some respect, and we definitely did most of that. We wanted that ‘W’, but we’ll get those. We’ll get back to work and get them.”

The Tigers opened with a 63-yard pass to Boo Smith before Badie’s 12-yard touchdown run on the very next play, but the Chippewas countered by going 75 yards in just five plays before JaCorey Sullivan’s tying touchdown catch.

Just when it appeared the defenses were showing up, Central Michigan put together a 88-yard drive that Nichols capped with an 18-yard run. And the Tigers promptly answered when Bazelak found Badie from 30 yards out for a score.

Both teams squandered scoring opportunities early in the second half – the Tigers turned it over on downs in the Central Michigan red zone, and Sirmon threw a pick in the opposite red zone. But the Tigers finally were able to establish breathing room late in the third quarter, when Young scooted 32 yards to give them a 24-14 lead.

Sirmon, who was sacked nine times, was briefly knocked from the game on a hard hit by Missouri’s Jaylon Carlies early in the fourth quarter. His understudy, Daniel Richardson, promptly threw a touchdown pass to Sullivan to pull the Chippewas within a field goal again, but Bazelak’s second TD toss with 7:58 left effectively put the game away.

Saturday's state scores

Albion 36, Mount St. Joseph 20

Alma 23, Bluffton 0

Heidelberg 48, Adrian 20

Kalamazoo 24, Oberlin 17

Michigan Tech 14, Hillsdale 10

N. Michigan 27, McKendree 20

Saginaw Valley 13, Texas A&M-Kingsville 9

Truman St. 31, Davenport 14