EMPORIA, Kan. — The University of Central Oklahoma football team ended its 2019 season with a 34-14 loss to Emporia State Saturday afternoon at Welch Stadium.
The Bronchos end this year's campaign with a 5-6 record and a eighth-place finish in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
"That's obviously not the way we wanted to end the season," UCO head football coach Nick Bobeck said. "We didn't compete well enough today and you hate to end the season on a loss. We had a lot of momentum coming into the game with three straight wins, but we came up short today. We'll take a little time off and begin the process all over again really soon."
Central Oklahoma never led Saturday. The Bronchos gave up a touchdown on the game's opening possession. Emporia State went 75 yards in 12 plays on a scoring drive that took five minutes.
UCO's response was a 3-play, 5-yard drive that ended with an interception. Emporia went down the field and kicked a field goal off the turnover to take a 10-0 lead with 4:43 to play in the first quarter, and the uphill climb began.
UCO did force a turnover on the next defensive possession. True freshman Dylan Buchheit nabbed his first pick of the season on the ESU 32-yard line. Central's T.J. Roberts scored a 1-yard touchdown run after the clock moved to the second quarter. That cut the lead to 10-7.
The Broncho defense cranked it up before getting the interception, and continued its stellar play after. The pick came on the third play of that drive, and Central forced two three-and-outs after that.
Unfortunately for Central, the offense couldn't find the same fortune. UCO went three & out, then failed a fourth-down try on the next drive before Emporia's offense made a big return. ESU went 13 plays, 72 yards in 4:38, scoring a touchdown with six seconds left in the half, and taking a 17-7 lead into halftime.
Central opened the third quarter with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Dustin Basks catching a 10-yard touchdown pass from Brandon George. That made the score 17-14 with nearly an entire half left to play.
But the Bronchos couldn't sustain the offensive output it had come accustomed to the past few weeks, and for almost all season for that matter.
UCO punted on its next three possessions and lost the ball on each of the three after that (fumble, interception, fumble). All while ESU continued to build to its lead.
Central Oklahoma finished with only 175 yards of offense on the day. The Bronchos totaled 64 yards rushing on 28 carries, and had 111 yards passing on 16-for-32.
Roberts was the leading rusher on the day for the Bronchos, totaling 34 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown. Basks finished with seven catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. George was 13-for-27 with 100 yards and a touchdown.
Dillon Hall led the UCO effort on defense, making a season-high 13 tackles. Jeremiah Hill added 12 and Bryan Burns 11. Burns had one sack on the day, as did Drequan Brown, who made four tackles. O'Shay Harris made four tackles and had one pass breakup.