Bronchos Tame Lions
Sophomore wide receiver L’liot Curry scores the first points of the game for UCO on a 36-yard pass from Senior quarterback Chas Stallard August 31, 2017 in Edmond, Okla. (Hayden Barzditis/ The Vista)
The University of Central Oklahoma football team beat the Lindenwood Lions 35-14 at Wantland Stadium to start their season 1-0.
“I was really proud of our kids and the way they responded,” Head Coach Nick Bobeck said.
On the Bronchos opening possession, quarterback Chas Stallard found Clay McKenzie for a nine yard gain to extend their first drive. But, the Lions would sack Stallard on the next series to halt the Bronchos and give Lindenwood their first opportunity to put points on the board.
On Lindenwood’s opening drive, the Lions started to make a push as Najee Jackson threw to Calen Campbell for a 24 yard gain and put them into UCO territory. Just as the Lions started to drive the ball down the field, Riley Galyon forced a dropped ball on third down to stop the Lindenwood offense in its tracks.
With the Bronchos pinned at their own nine yard line, UCO’s offense started to get going as Stallard threw a long pass to Josh Crockett for a 36 yard gain to get UCO into Lindenwood territory for the first time of the night. Just after the long pass play, Stallard found L’lliott Curry for a 36 yard touchdown pass as the Bronchos struck first to take a 7-0 lead with 5:04 left in the first quarter.
Lindenwood took to the ground on their second possession, as they had multiple rushes of 10+ yards during their drive. With the Lions on the prowl, Jackson found Deantrell Prince for a nine yard touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7, as the first quarter came to a close with the score all tied up at seven.
The quarterbacks for each team got going in the first quarter as Stallard was 3-4 for 81 yards and touchdown, while Lindenwood quarterback Jackson threw for 72 yards and a touchdown as well.
Jackson didn’t slow down in the second quarter as he threw a dart to Justin Smith for 21 yards. Later on in the drive, Jackson found Smith again, this time with a 16 yard pass to set up the Lions offense in scoring range. With Lindenwood airing it out most of the drive, they decided to mix mix it up with a rush attempt as Shakeem Wharton scored off a 23 yard run to put the Lions up 14-7.
With the Bronchos down, Bobeck said his team wasn’t deterred and didn’t let memories of last year’s loss to Lindenwood start to creep into their heads. On 4th and 5, Stallard couldn’t find a man open as he decided to tuck it run, picking up the first down just outside Lindenwood’s 10 yard line. Stallard’s drive saving play would set up McKenzie for a 12 yard touchdown run as the Bronchos tied the game up 14-14.
Bobeck said McKenzie probably separated his AC joint early in the game, but he continued to be a force for the Bronchos throughout the game.
“He is one of the toughest football players I’ve ever had,” Bobeck said.
On the following kickoff Austin Dodd and the Bronchos special teams was able to pin Lindenwood on their nine yard line. During the return, Riley Galyon had a huge hit that Bobeck said helped spark the team.
“There was a different energy after that and I was really proud of the way that both sides of the football responded,” Bobeck said.
The Lions couldn’t find any breathing room against the Bronchos defense following the kickoff, as they lost eight yards forcing them to punt from their own one yard.
A short punt, only 31 yards, would set up the Bronchos to score on their final possession of the half on a pass from Stallard to Crockett, as UCO entered the break with a 21-14 lead.
A little into the third quarter, Lindenwood had the ball deep in Broncho territory, but the Bronchos were able to force a missed field goal to keep the Broncho lead at 21-14.
After the missed field goal, it was all Bronchos for the rest of the game. With 3:34 left in the third quarter, Stallard threw a long pass J.T. Luper for a 37 yard touchdown pass, giving UCO a 28-14 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Bronchos continued to find success in the air, as Stallard found Crockett for a 13 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, as UCO redeemed last year’s loss against Lindenwood, with a 35-14 win.
“When you beat yourself it’s hard to win,” Bobeck said. “We didn’t turn the football over and our kids took a great deal of pride in that.”
Stallard finished the night 11-21 with 157 yards and four touchdowns. Crockett had 68 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns and McKenzie lead the charge in rushing with 96 yards and a touchdown.
UCO plays Pittsburg State next week in Kansas, as the Bronchos look to start the season 2-0.