The Western Michigan University football team impressed an alumni filled crowd of 15,671 fans Saturday afternoon at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo for the school’s 89th annual homecoming.
The Broncos (3-3, 1-1 MAC) pounded the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (0-6, 0-3 MAC), 52-14, as WMU back-up quarterback Tyler VanTubbergen exploded with five aerial touchdowns and added another on the ground.
VanTubbergen was 23-for-28 with 283 yards and five TD’s. The Broncos also rushed for over 300 yards as a team.
“We tried to get him to feel comfortable,” WMU coach Bill Cubit told reporters. “Once he feels comfortable, he’s pretty good. It’s the nervousness in the very beginning. You talk about a guy that, really in four years, this is only his third game. It’s hard. We wanted to give him good throws and easy throws.”
The story of the season remains the stellar performance of the defense. The turnover battle was even, but WMU doubled UMASS in first downs and passing yards, and tripled the Minutemen in rushing yards.
“I think as a defense as whole, we just tried to get back to basics,” senior defensive end Freddie Bishop told reporters. “We wanted to line up in our base defense and do a lot of different movements at the line. That’s what we wanted to try to get to this week and get some pressure on them.”
Bishop earned MAC West Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against UMASS.
Put the Toledo game aside, and WMU has been in striking distance of victory in every game this season. The play of the defense has been the constant staple that’s allowed the Brown and Gold to possess a .500 record at the halfway point of the schedule.
WMU jumped out to a 28-0 lead to start the game and took a 21-point lead to the locker room. The Broncos kept the pedal to the metal coming out of the half, putting up a 21-0 spot in the third quarter to take a 49-7 lead into the final quarter. WMU kept its focus of keeping the running game potent and running out the clock.
The Broncos finish the three-game home stand at 2-1 before heading out on the road for the next two games.
WMU travels to Muncie, Indiana this Saturday to face its second Mid-American Conference West Division foe in the Ball State University Cardinals.
Last week, the Cardinals lost a heart-breaking shootout to the Kent State University Golden Flashes, who is WMU’s opponent the following week.
In conference play, every game counts.
“The biggest thing to me is I challenged the football team,” Cubit told reporters. “I said ‘Where do you want to go? You got to make a decision. You got to make a choice. The mulligans are done. “We showed them on the board, it’s 0-1, now it’s 1-1. You don’t have another mulligan. Our kids have to understand and I think they did.”
WMU is half way to being bowl-eligible for the second consecutive season.