Special to The Sun
A hard-hitting defense held the upper hand during Central Oklahoma’s final major intrasquad scrimmage of the pre-season Saturday night at Wantland Stadium.
The defenders gave up only one touchdown in a variety of situations, forced two turnovers — returning one for a score — and gave up just 281 yards in 70 snaps during the 90-minute skirmish, drawing the praise of head coach Nick Bobeck.
“We’re a lot better and lot more physical on defense,” said the second-year skipper. “We were never as physical in a game last year as we were tonight. We had some guys make some physical football plays and that’s really positive.
“There were some quality things that happened tonight. We were spotty on both sides of the ball as far as execution goes, but I saw some very positive things.”
The defense came up with turnovers on back-to-back possessions that started on the offense’s 25-yard-line, getting an interception from Ashton Young at midfield along with Antonio Jenkins’ 45-yard TD return on a fumble caused by Jason Frimpong.
Devoris Dozier, Adrian Shoecraft and Tanner Koons led the No. 1 defense during a red zone possession that overcame a pass interference call and limited the No. 1 offense to three yards in forcing a short field goal, while Ashton Dandy had a forced fumble and sack to highlight another stout defensive stand.
Running back Donovan Roberts had a 15-yard touchdown run called back by penalty midway through the scrimmage and the offense didn’t get its lone score until late when Chas Stallard hit Josh Crockett from five yards out to cap a red zone drill.
Most of UCO’s offensive success came via the kicking game, with Easton Ramsey making field goals of 28, 34 and 40 yards while Seth Hiddink was successful from 25 and 36 yards. Freshman Jake Gandara had several nice runs in picking up 64 yards on 12 carries.
“We’re further along than last year, that’s for sure,” Bobeck said. “We’ve got to continue to improve going into the first week and have to get ourselves in position to go win football games.”
The Bronchos open the 2013 campaign Sept. 5 at Missouri Southern. UCO’s home opener is Sept. 14 against Pittsburg State (Kan.).