By: Brett Howery
It’s the third quarter, and UCM quarterback Brook Bolles threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to cap off a three-play, 79-yard drive to put the Mules up 31-0.
The Griffons outscored the Mules 45-14 following that score to take the game into overtime.
A rare miss by kicker Sam Aviles and a field goal by UCM ended the game at 48-45 in favor of the Mules.
This game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Mules scored 24 points to the Griffons zero. In the second half, the Griffons scored 45 to the Mules 21. Senior Griffon quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald was 24-44 for 336 yards and three TDs after finishing the first half 4-11 for 41 yards.
No matter the comeback, Griffon coach Matt Williamson was not happy with the team.
“I’m getting sick of hearing how close we were,” Williamson said. “Slow starts are not what this team is about, it’s not who we are, and I think the team knows it.”
Missouri Western’s longest drive in the first half was 3:17 minutes, and they didn’t get a first down until the end of the 1st quarter with a 15-yard Markel Smith run.
This game had a lot of similarities to the Northwest game with a slow start on offense leading to a big comeback.
About six minutes into the second quarter, Missouri Western’s drive stalled and they punted. UCM’s Koby Wilkerson settled under the punt, but he muffed it and the Griffons recovered it, putting them on the Mules’ 16-yard line.
The referees called kick-catch interference on Missouri Western though, and Central Missouri got the ball instead on their own 36.
This call was disputed by Missouri Western fans, but after video of the interference was shown on the video board, the crowd erupted and voiced their displeasure with the call.
Instead of it being 10-0 with the Griffons deep in Mules’ territory, UCM took this mistake and drove down the field and scored to make it 17-0.
Smith anchored the Griffons’ ground game running 13 times for 68 yards, while Shamar Griffith got nine touches and 35 yards.
It was the Missouri Western secondary that had a tough game this last Saturday though, as Bolles threw for 506 yards with five touchdowns, and starting punter and tight end Zach Davidson caught five passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman receiver Devon Holmes led the Griffons with seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Even with this good game, Holmes was not happy with it.
“This is the worst I’ve ever felt in my life,” Holmes said. “It’s horrible.”
Towards the end of a 45-45 game, UCM began driving down the field and had the ball in the red zone, but some miscommunication by the Mules led to them not being able to end the game there. In the end, the game went to overtime.
It was Missouri Western’s first overtime game since the first round of the 2012 NCAA DII playoffs, a 57-55 triple overtime win over Minnesota Duluth. Coincidentally enough, Travis Partridge, the Griffons’ quarterback at that time also wore No. 12 just like Steigerwald does now.
UCM totaled 702 yards of offense to win its fifth-straight game over MWSU and took a 18-17-1 lead in the all-time series.
Next week Missouri Western travels to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to face Northeastern University (0-3).
Missouri Western has yet to lose to Northeastern, currently sitting at 9-0 against the Riverhawks with the last two games tallying over 60 points for the Griffons.