Special to The Sun
The University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos, looking to get their first winning streak under first year head coach Nick Bobeck, came into their homecoming game after breaking a road losing streak dating back to 2009. The Southern Baptist University Bearcats had other plans, downing the Bronchos 26-14 in front of a bustling homecoming crowd at Wantland Stadium on Saturday.
The Bearcats (2-8) were first to the board on a long field goal by sophomore John Colliver on SBU’s first possession. After an interception thrown by Bronchos quarterback Adrian Nelson, the defense stiffened for UCO (2-6), keeping the Bearcats out of the end zone in the first quarter.
SBU scored their first touchdown on a 14-yard pass from senior Dan Conners to junior Nyran Ross, giving the Bearcats a 10-0 lead. An 82-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to sophomore Christian Hood put the Bronchos on the board with a minute to go for the half, and a 10-7 halftime deficit.
A blocked field goal attempt by the Bearcats courtesy of UCO’s Herbert Byrd and caught by Sam Moses gave the Bronchos a much-needed momentum boost midway through the third. The ensuing 96-yard drive ended with a 38-yard touchdown run by star running back Joshua Birmingham, giving UCO the lead 14-10.
The Bearcats pulled within one on a 22-yard Colliver field goal in the fourth, taking the lead on their next drive on a 74-yard run by freshman ViaVia Manuma. That gave SBU a 19-14 lead following a failed two-point conversion attempt. A series of Broncho penalties late in the fourth torpedoed any chance of a UCO comeback as SBU sealed the deal on a fake field goal touchdown pass to Brad Sundstrom by Colliver.
Nelson wound up going 13-of-28 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions for 180 yards. Birmingham lead the Broncho rushing attack, gaining 171 yards on 29 runs, including a touchdown. Hood led receivers with 110 yards on five catches. For the Bearcats, Connors went 34-of-49 passing for 262 yards and a touchdown, while Manuma led the ground game with 98 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
UCO will close out their season next weekend at home, taking on intrastate rival Northeastern State at 1 p.m. Saturday for the President’s Cup. The Riverhawks, who joined the MIAA with UCO this year, have won the previous two meetings.