Special to The Sun
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
Joshua Birmingham was virtually unstoppable any time he touched the ball and Central Oklahoma overwhelmed Lincoln 56-25 here Saturday afternoon in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association mismatch.
The Bronchos had eight plays of 25-plus yards and racked up 585 total yards — the third-best performance in school history — in rolling to the easy win that snapped a 15-game road losing streak dating back to 2009.
Birmingham sparked the offensive onslaught, scoring five touchdowns while setting a single-game school record with an amazing 395 all-purpose yards. The junior running back had the second-best rushing game at UCO with 272 yards and four TDs on 20 carries in addition to scoring on an 83-yard kickoff return and catching three passes for 40 yards.
The defense did its part as well, forcing LU to punt on its first eight possessions of the game and limiting the Blue Tigers to 119 first-half yards as UCO zipped to a 28-0 lead en route to taking a big 35-12 halftime advantage.
The Bronchos improved to 2-6 on the season and in the league in its final road game of the season. UCO opens a season-ending two-game homestand next Saturday, hosting Southwest Baptist for a 2 p.m. Homecoming clash.
“We got great effort on both sides of the ball and came out of here with a good win,” first-year head coach Nick Bobeck said. “Our offensive line did a tremendous job and we were able to run the ball like we want to and defensively we did some good things, especially in the first half.”
UCO finished with 365 rushing yards, its best effort since a 371-yard output against Ouachita Baptist in 1998. Christian Bobo backed up Birmingham with a 14-carry, 91-yard outing as the Bronchos continually found running room behind an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage.
Adrian Nelson added 220 yards passing, hitting 16-of-28 attempts.
Central limited the Blue Tigers to 335 yards. Adrian Shoecraft led the way with a game-high 11 tackles and two broken-up passes, while Turner Troup added nine tackles with 2.5 for loss and two PBUs.
UCO failed to take advantage of a couple of promising early drives before finally breaking through late in the opening quarter on Bobo’s 13-yard scoring burst up the middle, with Chris Robbs making the first of eight extra points for a 7-0 lead.
The Bronchos got the ball back a minute later after a quick three-and-out and Birmingham scored his first TD on a 57-yard sprint through a gaping hole in the middle after taking a direct snap in the wildcat formation.
He was in the end zone again the next time he got the ball, this time jetting 65 yards around the left side to make it 21-0 just three minutes into the second quarter.
A short punt set up Birmingham’s 10-yard scoring dash midway through the period that upped the lead to 28-0 and the two teams scored 19 combined points in the final 1:24 of the half to send UCO into the break with a 35-12 cushion.
Lincoln scored on a five-yard pass at 1:24 for its first touchdown, but Birmingham was barely touched when he took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 83 yards for his fourth TD of the half at the 1:12 mark.
The Blue Tigers came right back with a 93-yard kickoff return to get within 35-12 as Troup broke up the two-point conversion pass.
LU opened the second half with a quick-strike scoring drive to pull within 35-18, but the Bronchos quickly quelled any thoughts of a comeback with a 60-yard scoring march.
Nelson’s 25-yard pass to Sterling Koons was the big play and Nelson ended it with a 13-yard TD strike to Tucker Holland.
Birmingham scored from five yards out later in the third quarter and Bobo made it 56-18 late in the period with a 37-yard TD dash, with UCO coasting in from there.
THIS STORY was provided by University of Central Oklahoma sports information.