(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — The Mules overcame five turnovers and used a stifling defense to beat previously unbeaten Truman State 38-17 in front of a national television audience on Thursday night at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field.
The game was televised by CBS Sports Network as the Division II Game of the Week.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-1 MIAA) received the opening kickoff and drove the ball down inside the UCM 30, but the Mule defense stiffened and forced a 43-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide right. The Mules (3-1, 3-1 MIAA) took advantage of the TSU miscue, driving 74 yards in 12 plays to open the scoring. Colter Smith rumbled in from seven yards out on third and goal to put UCM in front 7-0.
Two drives later Connor Smith picked off Conrad Schottel to give the Mules great field position at the Truman 30 yard line. Five plays later Smith hit Sean Gorman from three yards out to put UCM in front 14-0.
The Mules next drive ended in an interception, the first of four on the night, but the defense held and the Bulldogs missed another field goal try, this one from 36 yards. Two plays after the missed field goal the Bulldogs picked off a second pass and Michael Elliott returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to pull Truman within 14-7.
Central Missouri turned the ball over again on the next possession when Smith was hit on a scramble by Wade Pelc near midfield and put the ball on the turf. The Mules defense came up big again getting a sack from Ramond Hunter on third and seven pushing the Bulldogs out of field goal range.
After a punt by each team, the Mules took over at the Truman 33 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. On the fourth play of the drive Smith found Ralph Watson from 19 yards out to put UCM in front 21-7 at halftime.
The UCM defense held Truman to just 69 yards of total offense in the half and seven first downs.
Receiving the ball to open the second half, the Mules drove 72 yards in just four plays capped off by an eight-yard Corey Washington touchdown run to open a 28-7 lead.
Central Missouri’s next possession ended in another interception giving the Bulldogs a first and 10 at the UCM 23. A personal foul penalty against UCM gave the Bulldogs a first down at the 12, but three incompletions later the Bulldogs were forced into a 28-yard field goal from Derek Koon to make it 28-10.
Neither team was able to muster much offense the remainder of the quarter and the game entered the fourth with the Mules still leading 28-10.
The Mules drove from their own 11-yard line down inside the Truman 10, but a fumble by UCM bounced all the way back to the Truman 25 and the Mules were forced to attempt a field goal. Aaron Jamieson connected from 48 yards out to put the Mules up 31-10. With the field goal, Jamieson tied Shane Meyer for the most points scored by a kicker in UCM history.
Truman’s ensuing possession ended quickly when Latavious Davis sacked the Bulldogs backup QB Taylor Breen and Ramond Hunter recovered the fumble at the TSU 36. Nine plays later Washington plunged into the end zone from a yard out on fourth and goal to put UCM in front 38-10. The extra point by Jamieson gave him the all-time record for points by a kicker at UCM.
The Bulldogs tacked on a late touchdown with under 10 seconds to play, but the Mules secured their third straight win, 38-17, and for the third straight week handed a team their first loss of the season.
Smith finished the game 26-of-39 for 246 yards with two scores and four interceptions. Ronrei Lloyd hauled in a game-high seven passes for 85 yards, while Watson had six grabs for 73 yards and a score. LaVance Taylor rushed 15 times for 84 yards and Washington had nine rushes for 29 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Mules had eight tackles for loss, six sacks, an interception and fumble recovery. Joe Carter had a team-high eight stops. Hunter had six tackles with 1.5 sacks. Ryan Berry and Davis each had five tackles with Davis registering two sacks and a forced fumble.
The Mules out-gained the Bulldogs 389-188 and held TSU to 83 yards rushing on 35 carries, just 2.4 yards per rush. UCM was 10-of-17 on third downs while holding Truman to 4-of-15.
UCM is back in action next Saturday, Sept. 29 hosting Missouri Southern at 1:30 p.m. at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field.