Special to The Sun
MARYVILLE, Mo. —
No. 3-ranked Northwest Missouri scored on its first four possessions of the game and went on to hand Central Oklahoma a 72-10 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association beating up north in Maryville, Mo. Saturday.
The undefeated Bearcats led 28-0 after the opening quarter and 49-10 at halftime en route to their sixth straight lopsided win of the season, improving to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the league. The Bronchos fell to 0-6 overall and in the MIAA.
Northwest Missouri rolled up 687 yards total offense, completing 25-of-29 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 323 yards and six scores. The Bearcats had 11 plays of 20-plus yards — including touchdown passes of 61 and 89 yards — and averaged 9.2 yards a play.
UCO, with redshirt freshman T.J. Eckert going the distance at quarterback in place of injured starter Adrian Nelson, had plenty of offensive success in the first half before getting bottled up the final two quarters. The Bronchos had 246 yards at intermission, but managed just 51 the rest of the way.
Eckert was 14-of-31 passing for 229 yards, with Marquez Clark catching five of those for 128 yards. Central Oklahoma had just 68 yards rushing as the Bearcats limited Joshua Birmingham to 45 yards on 15 attempts.
The Bronchos had promising drives on two of their first three possessions end with punts in Northwest Missouri territory while the Bearcats had scoring drives of 61, 80, 89 and 48 yards the first four times they touched the ball.
A 54-yard Eckert-to-Clark pass led to UCO’s first score, a 28-yard field goal by Seth Hiddink, but the Bearcats came right back with TD drives on their next two possessions to go ahead 42-3.
Central’s lone touchdown drive was an eight-play, 71-yard march that was keyed by Eckert’s 25-yard pass to Connor Pulley and capped by Birmingham’s three-yard scoring burst with just 23 seconds left in the half.
That was more than enough time for the Bearcats, however, who returned the ensuing kickoff 29 yards and then threw a 61-yard TD pass on the first play to take a 49-10 cushion into halftime.
Northwest Missouri added 23 second-half points to complete the rout.
Central Oklahoma returns home next Saturday to host league rival Central Missouri. Kickoff at Wantland Stadium is 1 p.m.