Bronchos clinch winning season, now look to stop four-game slide vs. RiverHawks

Central’s 35-26 win over Washburn on Saturday ensured the first winning season for the football program since 2008.

The Bronchos (6-2) have three games remaining on the schedule, including a rivalry contest with Northeastern this weekend.

But coach Nick Bobeck did take a moment to recognize his team’s progress.OSB-UCOBronchos4x6

“It was a big win,” Bobeck said.  “It wasn’t clean and we as coaches are probably the most guilty people in the world of wanting better and wanting more.  But our kids found a way to win against a football team that is traditionally right up there toward the top of our league.

“They (Washburn) have struggled a little bit this year, but they played pretty well against us.  Don’t know quite if it was all because of them or some because of us.  I think it’s a little bit of both.  Not to take anything away from what Washburn did, but we need to continue to grow as a football team and continue to pay attention to the little details that really make a difference in creating explosive plays in all three phases.

“Details make the biggest difference.  Our kids are learning that.  We’re not there yet, but we’re very pleased with six wins, guaranteeing us a winning season and equaling the win total from the previous three years combined.

“It’s a big deal and our kids are to be commended for that and our coaching staff.  It’s been a lot of fun, there’s no question about that.”

The UCO offense did its part again and sophomore quarterback Chas Stallard showed up big in the box score.

Stallard was 11-of-19 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown, but led the team in rushing with 158 yards and a score.  His touchdown run was a 60-yarder which put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.

Jake Gandara had 123 yards rushing and two TDs, as well.

Bobeck is looking for his defense to be more physical and force the issue more in the turnover column.

“Our kids are improving. Right now, we just want to play at a more physical level than what we’ve played over the last few weeks.

“We need to ramp up the physicality.  The turnovers need to increase from a defensive perspective.

“I believe, through the first five games, we created 16 turnovers and in the last three, we’ve created three.  And a lot of that is that other teams are improving as well, and that’s the other side of it that we have to also keep in perspective.  But the kids have done a great job.”

Bobeck took a little opportunity to look ahead, too.

“And obviously, we have a big game this week with homecoming and the rivalry with NSU.  It should be a lot of fun.”NSUatUCO

The Battle for the President’s Cup is next on the slate for the Bronchos.  It’s a rivalry that dates back to 1912, but the teams have been playing for the Cup since 1998.  NSU holds a 9-7 edge in that time.

Coaches will at times downplay the idea that one game means more than another.  Bobeck didn’t do that this week.

“Having played in the game and being an alum here at UCO, this is a huge game,” Bobeck said.  “It’s a big deal to us and I don’t care what the records are.  And it doesn’t matter to them, either.

“We feel the last two years we should have won the football game, but NSU found a way to win and we did not.  So you never know in these rivalry games.

“We’re excited about getting back out on the field and continuing the improvement we’ve made and hopefully getting that Cup back here to Edmond where it belongs.”

The RiverHawk winning streak is more than just the last two – the two Bobeck has coached.  NSU has taken four straight in the series.  Three of the four UCO losses have been by a touchdown or less.

Northeastern State is winless on the year so far at 0-8.  Bobeck is focusing on what his team will do in this game, and not what NSU has done to this point, playing against many of the same teams.

“It still goes back to us executing game to game,” Bobeck said.

“The game still is about matchups.  And it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, it’s about matchups.  And we need, obviously, to take advantage of the matchups that we’re given in the game, whether it be formationally or personnel, and that’s what we were able to do this past week.

“They (Stallard and Gandara) were able to take advantage of some opportunities with some of what Washburn was doing on defense.  And we’ll see where our matchups are this week with NSU.  People want to compare what one team did against another and another team did against this team.  But it still comes down to the matchups when you play that football team.”

Bobeck said he is looking forward to the rivalry matchup and that he is especially glad to be playing it this year in front of the home crowd.

“It’s going to be a fun game and we’re excited about it and we’re glad that it’s going to be here in Edmond.

“Last year, we went up there and played well early.  And then about midway through the second quarter, we had some issues turning the football over and ended up losing that game and coughing it up.

“So we’re glad to have it here and have it here for Homecoming.  We’ll have a great atmosphere and hopefully our kids can feed off that and go out and perform at a high level.”

Central is 3-1 at home this season, with the only loss coming to defending national champion Northwest Missouri.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Wantland Stadium on Saturday.

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