Top rusher Zurlon Tipton lost for season at Central Michigan


Central Michigan senior tailback Zurlon Tipton, who rushed for 1,497 yards last season and was the seventh-leading returning rusher in the nation, seems likely to miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle.

Tipton (6 feet, 221 pounds) came into the season with a streak of seven consecutive 100-yard games, and he also scored 19 TDs last season. He was a physical inside runner with speed who had 10 yards on four carries last week against Michigan before being injured. Tipton also was a good receiver.

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Tipton also was injured as a true freshman in 2009 and could apply for a sixth season of eligibility.

CMU also will be without starting quarterback Cody Kater for a while; Kater (6-3, 220), a junior, suffered a broken collarbone in the loss and will be out up to six weeks.

Kater beat out sophomore Alex Niznak (6-3, 227) for the starting job, and there shouldn't be much of a drop-off. Niznak was 11-of-22 for 131 yards against Michigan, and told reporters afterward, "I wouldn't say today was the best of Alex Niznak. I made some plays I'd like to have back. I felt like I would start to get rolling and then something would happen."

But there is going to be a big drop-off with the loss of Tipton. Sophomore Saylor Lavalli (5-9, 213) ascends to the starting role; he rushed for 263 yards and two TDs last season and ran for 52 yards against Michigan.

Central Michigan went 7-6 last season, including a win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. The Chippewas should have an OK defense by MAC standards, but the offense now is a huge concern and going to a second consecutive bowl seems unlikely.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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