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November 30, 2006

Central Michigan takes MAC championship

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DETROIT -Dan LeFevour threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns and Damien Linson had 186 yards receiving to help Central Michigan beat Ohio 31-10 in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Ford Field on Thursday night.

Linson broke the title-game record of 179 yards set by Marshall's Denero Marriott in 2001. Randy Moss had 170 yards for Marshall in 1997.

Chippewas tailback Ontario Sneed had two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 96-yard run that broke Chester Taylor's title-game record run by 31 yards.

Both teams were making their first appearance in the championship game, which started in 1997. Central Michigan (9-4) last won the conference title in 1994, while Ohio has not won the championship since 1968.

The teams traded touchdowns early, with LeFevour giving Central Michigan a 7-0 lead with a 6-yard pass to Obed Cetoute. Kalvin McRae made it 7-7 with a 2-yard run.

Two plays after McRae's touchdown, Linson got behind the Bobcats' defense and scored on a 71-yard pass play from LeFevour, a freshman for a 14-7 lead.

After an Ohio fumble, Rick Albreski kicked a 27-yard field goal to put Central Michigan up 17-7.

The Chippewas had another scoring chance late in the half when LeFevour hit Linson for 36 yards to the Bobcats 7, but a penalty and two sacks left them with 4th-and-goal from the 28 and Albreski's field-goal attempt hit the right upright.

The Bobcats started the second half with a 16-play drive, but had to settle for Matt Lasher's 33-yard field goal.

After losing starting quarterback Austen Everson to a first-quarter ankle injury, Ohio backup Brad Bower appeared to injure his leg midway through the third. That left Ohio's offense in the hands of freshman Josh Febus, who struggled for two series before Bower returned.

Linson and LeFevour teamed up again early in the fourth, a 24-yard pass to the Bobcats 4, setting up a 4-yard screen pass to Sneed for a 24-10 lead. On Central Michigan's next play from scrimmage, after an Ohio punt, Sneed broke around right end and raced down the sidelines for the clinching touchdown.

The Chippewas will return to Ford Field for the Dec. 26 Motor City Bowl, their first bowl game since the 1994 Las Vegas Bowl. Ohio will be in the Jan. 7 GMAC Bowl, breaking a streak that had lasted since the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.

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