(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – The University of Central Missouri Mules defeated the Missouri Western Griffons 66-44 at Walton Stadium on Saturday during UCM’s Family Weekend. Both teams came into the game with an even 1-1 record. The Mules received the opening kickoff but started the game with a quick three-and-out.
After Missouri Western wasn’t able to get any offense of their own going, the punt team took the field. A high snap gave the ball to UCM in the red zone. A few plays into the possession, freshman running back Devante Turner ran seven yards for a touchdown. After an unsuccessful PAT attempt, the Mules led 6-0.
The Griffons proceeded to drive, but a sack from Austin Miller forced them to settle for a 46-yard field goal attempt, which was knocked in to cut the UCM lead in half. Neither offense could muster any points over the next couple of possessions. Then a fumble by Turner was recovered by Missouri Western which opened the door for Josh Caldwell to run the Griffons into the end zone for a 10-6 lead.
The Mules quickly retaliated with a drive and the end of the opening quarter. Brooke Bolles thrived and ended the drive by hitting Kyrion Parker for a twenty-one-yard touchdown to reclaim the lead, 10-13. The Mules defense picked up where the offense left off, forcing a short possession for the Griffons.
The Mules were met with a fourth down situation early on in the drive, but Turner rushed to pick up the first. Bolles polished off the drive with another impressive touchdown pass, this one to Kyle Echols. This was Bolles second of four touchdown passes of the afternoon.
Missouri Western looked to cut into the 20-10 deficit they faced, but on third-and-12, a host of Mules defenders sacked quarterback Dom Marino in the backfield. Central Missouri’s offense looked to pile on to their lead, but Bolles was intercepted.
The Griffons couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, going three and out. UCM’s next drive looked promising with Koby Wilkerson running for a first down, but another Bolles pass was tipped and intercepted. Missouri Western didn’t squander their chance, with running back Derek Gray Jr. effectively moving the chains on the ground. He finished the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run, narrowing the UCM lead to three points.
After a short UCM drive with no results, Missouri Western kept the momentum going, booting in a 46-yard field goal to end the first half. The game moved into the second half with a 20-20 tie, with the Griffons getting the first chance to break it.
Break it they did, capping off a solid opening drive with a 42-yard field goal for a three-point advantage. Brooke Bolles followed by leading the Mules on a key drive that was assisted by simultaneous roughing the passer and personal foul calls on the Griffons; moving the ball thirty yards for Central Missouri. Koby Wilkerson closed out the drive with an eleven-yard touchdown run.
The Mules defense then recovered a fumble on second-and-1, but quickly turned the ball back over to Missouri Western. The Griffons wasted little time, running for a touchdown and 30-27 lead. Devante Turner payed it back with a tremendous drive for UCM, capped off with a five-yard scoring run. After a blocked extra point, UCM led 33-30.
Central Missouri took over again after their defense stifled the Griffon offense. Brooke Bolles found Jovante Siglar for an 48-yard touchdown. This gave the Mules a 40-30 lead with the third quarter winding down. The riches continued for UCM as a bad decision by the Missouri Western kick returner ended in a safety. This gave the Mules the ball and two points.
The UCM ground game remained strong, putting them in range for a thirty-two-yard field goal from Alex Langer. The score put UCM’s lead at 45-30. The Griffons took over at their own 23-yard line, desperately needing a score. Quarterback Dom Marino proceeded to answer the bell with a 67-yard touchdown bolt. Still down by eight, Missouri Western needed a stop. Brooke Bolles didn’t allow it, however, completing a pass to Kyrion Parker that went for seventy-one yards and the touchdown.
The next two possessions saw the two teams trade interceptions. The Griffons took advantage of their pick, as quarterback Corey Bertini completed a forty-three-yard pass which set up a touchdown run by Keylan Mack. That was the last of the Griffons’ scoring for the day; they still trailed the Mules, 52-44.
UCM then ran towards the finish line with Koby Wilkerson getting a huge sixty-five-yard gain that set up a 14-yard Devante Turner touchdown run. After Missouri Western got the ball back, with one last chance to keep their victory hopes alive, a clipping call gave them a first-and-25. The Mules defense again sacked the quarterback, this time forcing a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown by Austin Miller, who had banged up his shoulder in the first half.
Missouri Western followed this up by throwing an interception to cornerback Monteze Lattimore, which put the nail in the coffin for the Mules. The high scoring game ended with the Mules getting the victory by a score of 66-44. After the game, Head Coach Jim Svoboda and running back Devante Mays were very complimentary of the offensive line. And linebacker Austin Miller praised the team’s resilience when the game was on the line.
The Mules head to Emporia, Kansas to faceoff with Emporia State Hornets at 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 23, who have an identical record as the Mules at 2-1. This game will be their last before their big match up with defending National Champion Northwest Missouri State at Arrowhead Stadium.