Briones plays key role in 1st start for CMU

Alex Briones, left, and CMU teammate Carlos Clark helped lead a strong defensive effort by the Chippewas on Thursday in their victory over Rhode Island. (Photo courtesy Central Michigan University)

By ANDY SNEDDON

CMUChippewas.com

and The Associated Press

MOUNT PLEASANT – Alex Briones, as did many in Kelly/Shorts Stadium, perhaps felt relief more than anything.

The Ishpeming High School graduate and his teammates could finally exhale after the Central Michigan football team pulled out a 30-27 triple-overtime victory over Rhode Island in the Chippewas’ season opener on Thursday.

“Big time relief,” said Briones, a junior linebacker who turned in a whale of a performance in his first collegiate start. “Obviously things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, but the main thing is that we came out with a win. We will get back to the drawing board this week and just get ready for next Saturday.”

That’s when the Chippewas will unquestionably take a step up in level of competition when they go to Kansas, a member of the Big 12 Conference.

Briones led the Chippewas with 11 tackles including eight solo stops. He recorded two tackles-for-loss including a sack, and had one of CMU’s six interceptions.

“We were flying around, and everyone was making great plays,” Briones said. “Honestly, our corners were playing well on coverage, and those interceptions were big.”

The game was decided when Devon Spalding scored from 4 yards out in the third overtime to lift Central Michigan.

Tyler Harris threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including an 80-yard strike to Marven Beauvais, to bring the Rams back from a 21-7 deficit and force overtime, 21-21.

The teams traded field goals in the first overtime and C.J. Carrick pushed a 33-yard attempt from the left hash wide right to cap a scoreless second overtime.

Carrick booted a 36-yard field goal to open the third OT.

Shane Morris was 25 of 49 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown to lead the Chippewas. Jonathan Ward carried 19 times for 147 yards and a score.

Rhode Island’s Harris was 21 of 40 for 284 yards.