Ohio had a festive Homecoming crowd on hand on a sunny day at Peden Stadium, and were potentially minutes away from another conference win.

Kalil Pimpleton and Central Michigan stole the show in the final stages.

Pimpleton hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Richardson with 3:55 to play, rallying the Chippewas to a 30-27 win in front of 20,928 in Athens.

The Bobcats, who led 27-20 in the fourth quarter, fell go 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference.

“Let me start out by saying, we are disappointed,” Ohio head coach Tim Albin said. “It was a great, beautiful day, and I thought our team again played their tails off. We just have to find a way to make a few more plays down the stretch. I could not be prouder of their effort and there were a lot of good things that came out of the adjustments at both sides of the ball at halftime.”

The Bobcats were on the verge of a breakthrough win in the conference after leading by a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Central Michigan (3-3, 1-1 MAC) cashed in with two clutch fourth-quarter drives.

The first one advanced to Ohio’s 22-yard line before stalling out. Marshall Meeder made a 40-yard field goal with 10:06 to play to cut Ohio’s lead to 27-23.

Ohio gained a first down on the next possession thanks to Armani Rogers’ 16-yard pass to Ryan Luehrman on third down, but ultimately had to punt the ball away.

Central Michigan started its winning drive on its own 17-yard line with 6:38 to play.

Ohio was called for a facemask penalty on the first play, and a 26-yard pass from Richardson to Dallas Dixon quickly advanced Central Michigan to Ohio’s 38-yard line.

Central Michigan would gain a first down to Ohio’s 28-yard line before taking two shots to the end zone.

The first attempt was incomplete, Ohio’s Roman Parodie breaking up a pass to the end zone to Dixon.

Richardson went toward the same spot in the back of the end zone on the next play, this time hitting Pimpleton in stride for a 28-yard score despite tight coverage.

Pimpleton pointed up into the corner bleachers at some of the Central Michigan fans who made the trip, the Chippewas regaining the lead with under four minutes to play.

“Well, you know, I think he knew that he needed to make some plays and he’s our guy, he’s the heart and soul of this football team,” Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said of Pimpleton. “I tell you what I just love him. I thought he did a good, he stepped up and did some things well.”

Ohio was unable to gain a first down on what turned out to be its final possession.

Rogers attempted a pass to Isiah Cox on third-and-two from Central Michigan’s 33-yard line, bringing up a fourth-down situation.

Before Ohio could have a shot at going for it, the Bobcats’ sideline was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

That pushed the Bobcats into a fourth-and-17 from their own 18, giving them no choice but to punt the ball.

Albin didn’t want to identify who the penalty was against, but did say they were planning on going for the fourth-down conversion before the flag was thrown.

“It is unfortunate and I am disappointed and so was that person,” Albin said. That is not who he is, and it is a teachable moment for our football team. I know that young man is hurting but we must get it corrected and make sure it does not happen again.”

The Bobcats didn’t get the ball back, as Central Michigan successfully ran the clock out.

Lew Nichols ran for three yards to convert a third-and-three, giving Central Michigan a fresh set of downs at Ohio’s 46-yard line.

The Bobcats were out of timeouts as Central Michigan snapped the ball one final time on a fourth down, running the final seconds off the clock.

It marked the sixth win in a row in the series for Central Michigan, which hasn’t lost in Athens since 2000.

Central Michigan gained 461 yards of total offense, led by Nichols. He carried the ball 30 times for 186 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought they created some push up front and Lew took advantage of it,” McElwain said. “You know we played with a little bit of tempo and that helped us a little bit in that second half as well.”

Richardson completed 16 of 30 passes for 257 yards, with Dixon catching four passes for 91 yards. Pimpleton caught five passes for 78 yards, also running in a seven-yard touchdown.

Rogers took every offensive snap for Ohio, completing 13 of 18 passes for 190 yards. He also rushed 15 times for 37 yards.

“I am very happy with Armani’s performance today,” Albin said.

Rogers’ 4-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left in the first half allowed Ohio to force a 10-10 tie.

Central Michigan led 13-10 at halftime after Meeder’s 35-yard field goal, but Ohio took control in the third quarter.

Tariq Drake’s second interception of the game opened up the third quarter for Ohio, which took advantage of the field position.

The Bobcats drove 45 yards in just four plays, leading for the first time at 16-13 after De’Montre Tuggle’s 2-yard touchdown run.

The extra point missed however, but Ohio’s next drive ended when Stephen Johnson made a 44-yard field goal to lead 19-13.

The game continue to go back and forth. Pimpleton’s 7-yard touchdown run on a reverse gave Central Michigan a 20-19 lead with 1:05 left in the third.

A freshman gave the lead back to Ohio on a dramatic fourth-down conversion in the fourth.

Facing fourth-and-one from the Central Michigan 40-yard line, Sieh Bangura got his first career carry after O’Shaan Allison was forced to leave the game with an injury.

It appeared Bangura would be stopped around the line of scrimmage, but he broke free from the defense and was off to the races.

Bangura’s 40-yard touchdown run gave Ohio a 25-20 lead with 11:57 to play.

“I am not surprised at all; he’s the guy,” Albin said. “There is some really talented younger players that are getting a lot of playing time at this point of the season. Again, I was not surprised, and we knew he was going to play. Coach (Tyler) Tettleton did a great job there.”

Cox completed a trick play with a pass to Adam Luehrman on the 2-point conversion for the 27-20 lead.

The Bobcats had the momentum, but the Central Michigan kept chipping away.

“It does a lot for this team,” Pimpleton said. “Coming off of the loss last weekend (against Miami), we beat ourselves and going forward this season I think I think every game is important. Facing and overcoming adversity to win this one by sticking together and bringing our own energy meant a lot.”

Tuggle led Ohio with 83 yards on 19 rushes. Cameron Odom caught four passes for 88 yards, while Ryan Luehrman caught four passes for 44 yards.

The Bobcats are back on the road this week, going to Buffalo on Saturday for a 12 p.m. kickoff.

“Our league top to bottom is the most competitive it has been since my time here,” Albin said. “Every game is going to come down to what you saw today. Next week is going to be like today and we must find a way to get it done.”

Central Michigan 30, Ohio 27

Central Michigan 7 6 7 10 — 30

Ohio 3 7 9 8 — 27

CMU — Lew Nichols, 3-yard run (Marshall Meeder kick), 5:25, 1st

OH — Stephen Johnson, 29-yard field goal, :26, 1st

CMU — Marshall Meeder, 34-yard field goal, 7:01, 2nd

OH — Armani Rogers, 4-yard run (Stephen Johnson kick), 2:44, 2nd

CMU — Marshall Meeder, 35-yard field goal, :34, 2nd

OH — De’Montre Tuggle, 2-yard run (kick failed), 11:44, 3rd

OH — Stephen Johnson, 44-yard field goal, 4:18, 3rd

CMU — Kalil Pimpleton, 7-yard run (Marshall Meeder kick), 1:05, 3rd

OH — Sieh Bangura, 40-yard run (Adam Luehrman pass from Isiah Cox), 11:57, 4th

CMU — Marshall Meeder, 40-yard field goal, 10:06, 4th

CMU — Kalil Pimpleton, 28-yard pass from Daniel Richardson (Marshall Meeder kick), 3:55, 4th

TEAM STATISTICS

CMU OH

First downs 23 22

Plays from scrimmage 71 65

Rushing (plys-yds) 41-204 46 179

Passing yards 257 190

Total net yards 461 369

Passes (cmp-att-int) 16-30-2 13-19-0

Fumbles (no-lost) 0-0 1-1

Penalties (no-yds) 8-95 6-65

Punts (no-avg) 2-40 3-32.7

Time of possession 26:33 33:27

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING

Central Michigan — Lew Nichols 30-186 TD, Marion Lukes 4-13, Myles Bailey 2-7, Kalil Pimpleton 1-7 TD, Daniel Richardson 3-(-2), TEAM 1-(-7); Ohio — De’Montre Tuggle 19-83 TD, Sieh Bangura 1-40 TD, Armani Rogers 15-37 TD, O’Shaan Allison 6-11, Jake Neatherton 3-8, Philip Cole 1-1, TEAM 1-(-1).

PASSING

Central Michigan — Daniel Richardson 16-30-2-257 TD; Ohio — Armani Rogers 13-18-0-190, Isiah Cox 0-1-0-0-0.

RECEIVING

Central Michigan — Dallas Dixon 4-91, Kalil Pimpleton 5-78 TD, Remi Simmons 1-30, Lew Nichols 3-24, Levar Gumms 1-14, Joel Wilson 1-14, Kenny Brewer 1-6; Ohio — Cameron Odom 4-88, Miles Cross 2-47, Ryan Luehrman 4-44, O’Shaan Allison 1-7, Chase Colley 1-3, Ty Walton 1-1.


Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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