From UCO Sports Info.
Mike Kirk, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
TAHLEQUAH – There was no need for tricks, but there were plenty of treats for Central Oklahoma in a Halloween bashing of intrastate rival Northeastern State here Saturday afternoon.
The Bronchos used a punishing running attack and dominating defensive effort to easily retain the President’s Cup with a 48-17 drubbing of the RiverHawks in winning for the fourth time in five games.
“We played a physical football game and did a great job at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Nick Bobeck, whose team improved to 4-5 on the season and in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play. “We had a good game plan and our guys went out and executed.”
UCO’s offensive line of center Brandon Waggoner, guards Landon Chappell and Aaron Williams and tackles Mvhayv Locust and Sam Noble dominated up front in constantly opening up big running lanes and the Bronchos rolled up 424 rushing yards, the fourth-best game in school history.
Hard-charging Clay McKenzie led the way with 33 carries for 248 yards – tied for the third-best game in UCO history – and three touchdowns. Back-up quarterback Chas Stallard added 83 yards in just eight attempts and Greg Johnson 51 yards and one TD in 11 tries.
The Bronchos attempted a season-low 21 passes, hitting 14 for 160 yards, and finished with 36 first downs and 584 total yards. NSU managed just 199 yards and had just 10 first downs, with three of those coming on UCO penalties.
Twenty-two defenders had at least one tackle in the game for the Bronchos, with linebacker Colton Lindsey leading the way with six. Nick Koenig made 1.5 sacks, while Cody Jones had a forced and recovered fumble.
UCO never trailed after taking a 3-0 lead on its first possession of the game with a seven-play, 40-yard drive keyed by a 15-yard T.J. Eckert keeper that ended with a 39-yard Seth Hiddink field goal.
NSU came back to tie it on its next possession, picking up their only two first downs of the drive on a pair of 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalties against the Bronchos before kicking a 36-yard field goal.
It took 45 seconds for UCO to answer back.
McKenzie rumbled for 15 yards on the first play following the kickoff, with a 15-yard penalty advancing the ball to the NSU 40. McKenzie covered that distance on the next carry, barging through a gaping hole on the right side before breaking to the outside and outracing a lone NSU defender to the end zone.
Hiddink’s extra point had UCO on top 10-3 with 5:50 left in the opening period.
The Bronchos forced a quick punt and then drove 62 yards in 13 plays to another Hiddink field goal.
Eckert had passes of 18 yards to McKenzie and 22 to Connor Pulley before the drive stalled at the NSU six, but Hiddink’s 23-yard attempt was perfect and the Bronchos led 13-3 early in the second period.
The RiverHawks hit a 14-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 13-10 with 6:28 left in the half, but UCO responded with a nine-play, 69-yard scoring march sparked by Eckert’s 18-yard pass to Myles Tease on a third-and-nine play and Eckert’s 19-yard keeper.
McKenzie capped it with his second TD of the game, weaving his way in from six yards out to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and push UCO’s lead to 20-10 with 1:56 remaining in the half.
The Bronchos made it 27-10 in the third quarter with Eckert’s six-yard TD pass to Caden Locke, with making a nifty over-the-shoulder TD catch in the right corner of the end zone.
McKenzie got his third score on UCO’s next possession, ending a 52-yard drive with a three-yard smash up the middle to up the lead to 34-10. McKenzie had 40 of those yards, running over three defenders during one 12-yard gainer.
NSU hit a 54-yard scoring pass to get within 34-17 with 12:37 left to play, but that was it for the RiverHawks as UCO scored two touchdowns in a two-minute span to arrange the final margin.
Stallard got the first score when he scrambled out of trouble and tossed a 20-yard TD pass to Derek Reeves, who hauled in his first career reception at the 10 and dove across the goal line.
Jones forced and recovered a fumble at the NSU 23-yard-line seconds later and Johnson finished off the scoring with a 12-yard spring around the left side.
UCO returns to Edmond to celebrate Homecoming next Saturday, hosting Lindenwood at 2 p.m.