Special to The Sun
All-time records fell like rain Saturday night at Wantland Stadium, but most of them belonged to visiting Emporia State as the Hornets blasted Central Oklahoma, 54-38, to drop the Bronchos to 0-3 in both the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association and on the season.
The Bronchos scored 38 points and had 28 first downs, gained 204 yards rushing and another 362 through the air and still lost to the visitors by 16 points.
Emporia State shattered several Wantland Stadium records including seven touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Brent Wilson and five TD receptions by Ray-Ray Davis.
Wilson’s 522 yards passing on 38-of-47 is not only a Wantland Stadium record, but also is a new standard in the league as well as NCAA Division II and NAIA. The Hornets also set a new total offense mark with 699 yards with 177 yards rushing added on to Wilson’s passing show.
The Bronchos also got in on the record setting as Josh (Juice) Birmingham continued his assault on numerous UCO and stadium marks as did Navarro Jr. College transfer Marquez Clark.
Birmingham, a senior from Luther, now stands alone as the Bronchos’ all-time scoring leader. He tied James Hooks’ record of 50 touchdowns and 300 points with two tallies last week against Pittsburg State and set the new mark with a three-yard scoring blast at the 10:57 mark of the second period Saturday night. He would score twice more before the night was over.
Clark, a Juco All-American at Navarro, stamped his name into the record books with 13 pass receptions for a total of 236 yards. He added 14 more on a single carry, 21 on punt returns and 67 on kickoff returns for 338 total yards.
Birmingham is already the all-time total offense leader for UCO and added 192 to bring his record total to 5,335. He continues to chase fellow Luther grad Steve Tate in the rushing category. After 93 yards Saturday night, Birmingham now has 3,619 yards, or 742 behind Tate with seven games remaining on the Bronchos’ schedule.
Central Oklahoma also reached into the school record book just before halftime when Seth Heddink connected on a 50-yard field goal, second longest in school history.
Birmingham’s record-shattering TD was set up by a superb defensive stand by the Bronchos that forced the Hornets to punt from their own eight-yard line.
Clark grabbed the punt on the run and returned it 21 yards to the Emporia State 18. On first down, UCO coach Nick Bobeck resorted to some trickery as he inserted redshirt freshman T.J. Eckert of Bixby into the lineup for his first action of the season. Eckert responded by taking a direct snap and picking up eight yards to the 10. Birmingham blasted to the three for a first down and then followed with his record-setting touchdown. Heddink added the PAT and the Bronchos had cut the lead to 20-14.
Kenny Allen knifed through the Hornets’ defense to block the PAT on ESU’s first TD to hold the Emporia State lead to 6-0.
The Bronchos actually grabbed the lead for the first time this season following the kickoff which Clark returned to the 30. Four plays later, Adrian Nelson connected on a perfect strike to Clark and the speedy Texarkana, Texas junior did the rest on his own, covering 48 yards to paydirt. Heddink gave the Bronchos a 7-6 margin.
After the Hornets had gone on top, 20-7, UCO answered with a 48-yard strike from Nelson-to-Clark and Heddink delivered not only the PAT but the 50-yard field goal just before halftime with the Hornets on top, 27-17.
ESU scored the first two touchdowns on the second half, both on TDs from Wilson-to-Davis before UCO mounted a drive. Nelson and Clark hooked up on a 34-yard beauty to move the ball to the 25 and Birmingham finished it off from the seven behind good blocking from the left side of the O-line. Heddink converted the extra point.
Another 34-yard pass from Nelson-to-Clark gave Central Oklahoma the ball on the visitor 29. Four plays later, Birmingham took the snap in the Wildcat formation and stepped in untouched for his third TD of the evening, making it 44-31.
After Emporia had added another touchdown and a field goal, Nelson wound up the scoring on a nifty six-yard keeper and Heddink added the extra points.
Adrian Shoecraft led the valiant UCO defenders with 11 tackles, followed by Thomas Hill and Levonte Douglas, both with nine.