Missouri Western lost their fifth Homecoming game in a row on Saturday, Oct. 13, after a close game with Central Oklahoma University. The Griffons went from losing 17-0 in the first two quarters of the game, to making a comeback in the last two quarters, ending the game at 17-16 with Central Oklahoma finishing the game on top. This was Missouri Western’s first loss in a month. “It’s a wake up call,” football coach Matt Williamson said. “You can’t come out and play half. You have to play the whole game, and the team that does play the whole game and is the most consistent and successful, those are the ones that probably end up on top the most.”
While the Griffons started off behind, they were able to come back in the second half of the game holding Central Oklahoma to only 52 total yards of offense, completely shutting down their team from scoring at all. “The second half is exactly what we want to do, and we threw the ball well, but it’s tough,” Williamson said. “If you have a really good opponent and you get down 17-0, then you’ve got to work your tail off to get back in the game, and I’m proud of our kids because we did. We had a chance to win right at the end there.”
Missouri Western’s quarterback Dom Marino on third down and 43 yards in the third quarter, ran for a touchdown with 36 seconds left on the clock, and in the fourth quarter he ran for a nine yard touchdown with 3:26 left on the clock. Dom Marino had a career rushing day as he rushed for a career-high 121 yards with two touchdowns on top of his 118 yards passing.
“I was proud of my guys for how hard they fought,” Marino said. “We definitely came back and threw some haymakers of our own. We just ran out of time, and we realized that so once we get it all in order. I think we will be alright.”
Even though the Griffons lost, they came out with power in the second half of the game completely turning the tides. They played with a whole new intensity in the last two quarters, coming close to walking away with a win. “We challenged them in the locker room, and they responded really well,” Williamson said. “Missouri Western gives it. We don’t take. We challenged their manhood.”
The Griffons brought the heat in the last two quarters, and while they lost the game, they remain positive for what comes next. Running back Derek Gray Jr. also had a career rushing day, going for a career-best 82 yards. “I know we lost it, but we’re ready to turn it around,” Gray said. “Tomorrow’s a work day, and we’re not going to dwell on this. We know what we should have done better to pull that win, and it’s back to the drawing boards tomorrow.”
With the season not yet over, they are ready to bounce back from this loss and prepare for what comes next. “You should have heard the locker room after the game. I’ve never heard anything like that,” Williamson said. “They have already moved on, and it’s a pretty cool environment. There’s just something that we need to find, something missing in us just a little bit that we’ve got to inject in us, which is my job as the coach to let these kids know. Not one time did I hear anything negative. All positive, lifting one another up.”
With four more games before the end of the regular season, the hopes are high in the team that they will be able to learn from their mistakes. If the Griffons could have played with as much force in the first half of the game as they did in the second half, then we would have had a victory, and if they can bring that out in the next four games, than we could be looking at a possible playoff berth. “We always have a chance to do anything, and like coach said we all talked about it, and we started off slow in the first half, and that’s what hurt us, but just see what we did in the second half,” Gray said. “If we put four quarters together like coach wants us too, then we can be dangerous.” Their next game is at Emporia State on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.