Top 10 of 2015: No. 7 – McKenzie tops 100-yard mark in seven straight games

Central's Clay McKenzie. Photo courtesy UCO Photo Services.

The season wasn’t supposed to go like this.

Jake Gandara was coming off a year with 1,121 yards rushing and was slated to start in the backfield again with an able Clay McKenzie getting time as well.

But Gandara was injured in the season opener and McKenzie had to step into the forefront. It was a situation of which he made the most.Gradient2plusUCO

The sophomore, who had rushed for 246 yards his freshman year, picked up just 48 yards at Missouri Western in his first start, but came back strong against a tough Emporia State team (that made it to the D-II quarterfinal), gaining 115 yards and scoring twice.

Against eventual national champion Northwest Missouri, McKenzie rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown. It would be the last double-digit number for his ground game in the regular season. The Bronchos’ record after that loss fell to 0-4.

Over the next seven weeks, McKenzie’s rushing totals were: 141, 164, 114, 123, 248, 130 and 167. He also had 13 rushing touchdowns during that seven-game stretch.

And during that time, though there were other factors at play as well, UCO won six of those games, losing only in Week Seven to Central Missouri.

McKenzie ran for only 89 yards in the Bronchos’ postseason bowl win over Southwestern, but he did have two TD runs. UCO ended the season at 7-5.

At the end of the year, his offensive totals were stellar, leading the team with 1,499 rushing yards, 1,902 all-purpose yards and 126 points scored.

If Gandara can return healthy for 2016, along with proven star McKenzie, Bronchos’ opponents aren’t likely to want to face that backfield.

Top 10 of 2015: No. 4 – ECU’s Davis hits walk-off grand slam
Top 10 of 2015: No. 5 – Sooners win ninth men’s gymnastics national championship
Top 10 of 2015: No. 6 – OKWU men’s soccer¬†notches 20 wins
Top 10 of 2015: No. 7 – McKenzie tops 100-yard mark in seven straight games
Top 10 of 2015: No. 8 – Luedtke posts triple-double in final match

Top 10 of 2015: No. 9 – SWOSU tops Ouachita in GAC opener
Top 10 of 2015: No. 10 – The streak is over
Top 10 of 2015: Honorable Mention
Top 10 of 2015: Plus

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