The Griffons are playoff ready as they closed out a close game, against a good team, in the fourth quarter. The defense made key plays in critical situations and the offense scored at least 30 points for the eighth time this season. i>Â
Â With post-season play hanging in the balance, Missouri Western (8-2 overall, 6-2 conference) overcame a stubborn Mules team with some clutch, impressive special teams play.
Â After one half of play the Griffons looked like they had total control of the game thanks to some tough defense and a key interception by senior Griffon linebacker Jacob Schoonover, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.Â Â
However, early in the third quarter, Central (6-4 overall, 5-3 conference) punched in to the end zone with a 2-yard run from running back Jeremy Braden.Â The score capped a 14-play, 6:20 drive that brought the Mules back within a score.Â On the very next possession for Central, it only took them one play and a two-point conversion to tie up the game at 21.
â€œWe were so close, so many times to getting into position to kick a field goal and putting the icing on it, we just never did,â€ Western coach Jerry Partridge said.Â â€œTo Centralâ€™s credit, they continued to battle, scratch and claw.â€
The Griffons were not about to go down quietly however.Â On their next possession, Ferrell McGhee set up the offense with an excellent kick return to the 50 yard line. Then, the offense only needed two outstanding throws from backup quarterback Barron Bradshaw to put his team back in the lead.Â Bradshaw, who came in for an injured Drew Newhart, went two plays for 50 yards, and capped the drive with a 26 yard completion to sophomore tight-end Billy Babcock.
â€œI think what helped us out was Ferrellâ€™s return that put us in good field position,â€ Bradshaw said.Â â€œAnd to come in and, I guess you could say throw the game-winning touchdown, itâ€™s something you dream about as a kid.â€
Â Westernâ€™s special teams werenâ€™t done yet though.Â Â After the Griffonâ€™s defense held tough to force a Central punt, senior Jacob Schoonover decided one touchdown on senior day wasnâ€™t enough.Â He blocked the punt and ran the loose ball in for his second score of the day to put the Griffons back up by two scores.
Â â€œI canâ€™t explain how it feels,â€ Schoonover said. â€œIt feels very good to know I contributed, but it wasnâ€™t just me; we had a lot of guys stepping up and making plays.â€
Â The Mules threatened one last time in this back and forth game, but Missouri Western was finally able to get the running game going to seal the victory.Â Running back Laâ€™Darrian Page, who finished the day with 129 yards rushing, kept the Central offense on the sidelines with four rushes, including one 38 yard run and a 29 yard scamper into the end zone.
Â â€œOur running game started clickinâ€™, and little â€˜Spider Manâ€™ LP squirted out for a touchdown,â€ offensive lineman Roger Allen said.Â
Â The victory was the fifth in a row for Missouri Western, and it was the fifth straight against a tough Central Missouri team.Â
Â The win also almost guarantees a playoff birth for the Griffons, barring a complete meltdown against a struggling 5-5 Truman State team.