Missouri Western football avoided a second-half comeback attempt to defeat Central Oklahoma 45-23 at Spratt Stadium to improve its record to 5-0 for the first time under coach Jerry Partridge.
“We just have better football players,” Partridge said. “Their program is just trying to get off the ground right now.”
The Griffons build up a 28-0 lead before Central Oklahoma was finally able to get on the board in the third quarter.
“We dominated the first half,” Partridge said. “We didn’t play very good defense in the second half, that’s for sure.”
Central Oklahoma attempted a comeback in the second half after scoring three straight touchdowns and narrowing the lead to 31-23 with 1:35 left in the game.
“We had several chances to throw a knockout punch and we’ve been pretty good with that,but we didn’t do it today,” Partridge said.
After a failed onside kick attempt, the nation’s leading rusher Michael Hill busted off a 30-yard touchdown run with around a minute left in the game. Michael Jordan then intercepted Adrian Nelson and ran it back 42-yards for a touchdown with two seconds left in the game.
Quarterback Travis Partridge threw for 224 yards and a touchdown and found success running the ball, gaining 87 yards on 10 carries. He had two touchdown runs including outrunning the defense for a 45-yard scramble.
Hill led the Griffons in rushing with 143 yards on 22 carries, including his clutch fourth quarter touchdown run and caught two passes for 27 yards.
Kyle Knox had a breakout performance, leading the Griffon receivers with 108 yards on seven catches.
“It’s a great feeling, I love helping the team out to win,” Knox said. “Travis throws a perfect ball that hits me in the chest every time.”
Coach Partridge has nothing but positive things to say about Knox.
“Kyle is a gritty veteran and a tough kid,” Partridge said. “He’s done his time and he’s come in and made some plays. Anybody that knows Kyle Knox likes him a lot.”
Tarrell Downing caught five passes for 42 yards. Reggie Jordan caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Partridge to give him four touchdown catches on the season.
“It’s a weapon having a 6-4, 250 (pound) receiver,” quarterback Partridge said of Jordan. “He’s definitely a red-zone weapon, but he can block and do other things, too.”
The Griffon offense utilized nine different receivers in the passing game.
“We are never going to have a go to player unless it’s in the red zone,” coach Partridge said. “It’s just not what we do.”
The most electric highlight of the day might have been the first score of the game when Tyron Crockum took a reverse hand off and turned the corner out-running everybody for a 22-yard touchdown.
Stephen Juergens led the Griffons with nine tackles including five solo while Ben Pister had seven tackles including five solo plus a sack and a forced fumbled.
“They didn’t quit fighting and we knew that they wouldn’t because they have outscored their opponents in the second half all year,” Pister said.
Austin Baska brought the quarterback down for two sacks while Davis Bass recorded one as the Griffon defense allowed nothing in the first half and gave up all their points late. As the quarterback, Partridge knows how strong the defense is.
“We play against them every day, so we know what they can do,”Partridge said. “They are a great defense. As an offense, it kind of relaxes you a little bit.”
The Griffons return to action on Saturday in Tahlequah, Okla., against MIAA opponent Northeastern State.