CMU wins back-to-back MAC titles, heads to Motor City Bowl

DETROIT (AP) -- Dan LeFevour wasn't happy with his passing Saturday afternoon.

No one else seemed to mind.

The Central Michigan quarterback ran for 170 yards and threw for 185, helping the Chippewas win their second straight Mid-American Conference championship game 35-10 over Miami.

"Dan did a great job running the ball, and that finally opened up the throwing game," first-year Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said.

LeFevour ran for two scores and threw for another, giving him 41 touchdowns -- 17 rushing, 23 passing and one receiving -- this season. The sophomore became only the second MAC quarterback to win back-to-back championship games, joining Chad Pennington, who won three in a row with Marshall from 1997-99.

"This feels great, but I don't think I held up my end of the bargain," he said. "I ran pretty well, but give this one to our defense. They kept us in the game."

LeFevour has 1,008 yards rushing and 3,360 yards passing this season, joining Vince Young (Texas, 2005) as the only members of the 1,000-3,000 club in Football Bowl Subdivision history.

"That's quite an accomplishment, but I think most of the credit goes to my offensive line," LeFevour said. "There have been a lot of big runs this season where no one has touched me."

The game matched LeFevour, the MAC's Offensive Player of the Year, and Miami linebacker Clayton Mullins, the league's Defensive Player of the Year.

"He's a great player and he did a lot to beat us today," Mullins said. "At some point, you have to step up and make a play to stop him. We didn't do that."

After the game, Central Michigan accepted an invitation to return to Ford Field for the fourth time in two seasons for the Dec. 26 Motor City Bowl. Last year, the Chippewas beat Ohio 31-10 in the MAC championship game, then defeated Middle Tennessee State 31-14 in the Motor City Bowl.

"I told our team all year that the hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat," said Jones, who took over the Central Michigan job after Brian Kelly left for Cincinnati.

The RedHawks' defense was able to contain LeFevour in the first half, but Miami's offense wasn't able to take advantage.

"I'm very disappointed in our offensive performance," Miami coach Shane Montgomery said. "We've relied on our defense all season, and it caught up with us today."

The Chippewas took a 7-0 late in the first quarter on LeFevour's 3-yard pass to freshman Kito Poblah, and Miami's Nathan Parseghian missed a 44-yard field goal attempt in the second.

A short punt gave Miami the ball at the Chippewas 44 early in the third quarter, and although they couldn't move the ball, Jake Richardson's punt was downed at the Central Michigan 3.

The RedHawks held on defense, and Eugene Harris returned another short punt to the Chippewas 23. Miami only managed 2 yards in the next three plays, but Parseghian made it 7-3 with a 38-yard field goal.

"We've taken a lot of criticism this year, but in the end, defense always wins championships," said all-conference linebacker Red Keith. "No one is ever going to stop our offense for a whole game, so we just had to keep us in the game until they got rolling."

All it took was for LeFevour to switch from the air to the ground.

On the drive after Parseghian's field goal, LeFevour had a 24-yard run to the Miami 30. Then after a short pass, he sprinted 21 yards around right end for his 16th touchdown rushing this season.

The RedHawks answered with their best drive of the game, featuring a 43-yard pass from Daniel Raudabaugh to Dustin Woods, but Parseghian missed a 33-yard field goal.

The Chippewas answered with a game-clinching 13-play, 80-yard drive that included a 27-yard run by LeFevour. Ontario Sneed's 1-yard run made it 21-3 with 12:43 to play.

Miami pulled within 21-10 on Raudabaugh's 12-yard pass to Armand Robinson with 9:09 left, but Sneed's 7-yard run moved the margin back to 18 points, and LeFevour finished the scoring with a 28-yard run.

"I'm not sure you can ever stop Dan, but we contained him pretty well for almost three quarters," Montgomery said. "Our defense just wore down at the end after carrying us all day."