UCO avoids trap at Lindenwood, is home to meet Pitt State in big finale

Central's Cody Jones. Photo courtesy UCO Photo Services.

The turnaround in 2014 has been one for the ages for the Central Bronchos.

At 8-2, the turnaround (six wins better than the 2013 record) has been the best in program history and there is one game yet to play.  The win total matches the previous four years combined.OSB-UCOBronchos4x6

And the UCO avoided falling in the trap game that was the trip to lowly Lindenwood on Saturday.  The Bronchos won 45-13.

Coach Nick Bobeck and his staff kept the squad focused on the Lions, not an easy thing to do following a homecoming win over rival NSU and just before a huge matchup with perennial powerhouse Pittsburg State.

“There were a lot of things from a coaching perspective to be nervous about,” Bobeck said.  “We didn’t play very well offensively in the first half. Now the defense played well the entire game. We played well on special teams, other than a little bit of issue in the punting game with the wind. But it was a really good effort.”

It was close early and a 38-yard field goal at the end of the first half put Lindenwood within one, 14-13, at the intermission.

The Bronchos owned the rest of the game.

“I was proud of our kids,” Bobeck said.  We did a good job in the second half of starting fast and I though that was the key to the game. We had the lead at halftime, but we didn’t play very well offensively, but again the defense played well. To start the second half, we came out and got a three-and-out and then we drove the football down and scored to create some separation. Then we got it back and scored again and then got an interception returned for a touchdown and the game blew open at that point.”

All 31 points recorded in the second half were put up by UCO.

Six players contributed to a balanced running attack that racked up 263 yards on the ground.  Chas Stallard completed 70 percent of his passes – 21-of-30 – for 180 yards and a touchdown.

It sets up a massive contest against No. 6 Pitt State on Saturday.  PSU is 9-1 and No. 4 in the regional rankings; Central is tenth in the region.

A win keeps the Gorillas in the top six, which is the number of teams that advance to the playoffs from each region.  Even with a win for the Bronchos, moving up to least No. 6 might be a stretch, but it is possible.MIAA-PSUatUCO

And the possibility of a bowl appearance is real to both teams.

“It’s essentially a playoff game for us and for them, too,” Bobeck said.  “If you win on either side, you continue to play. We have an outside chance to make the playoffs. If we win the game, we’re pretty much a shoe-in for a bowl game. But if we don’t win the game, we’re probably turning in equipment next week. And they are doing the same.”

And this is exactly the situation Bobeck said he wants his team to be in.

“We’re excited about that. It’s nice to be in those situations here at UCO again and that’s the way this program deserves to be.

“It’s a credit to our kids. That’s the great thing about it is that our kids have done it the right way. They’ve played really hard this year and have done the things that they needed to do to put themselves in positive situations and they’ve got to continue to do that this week.”

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