Joe Hoffmann, Media Relations Manager
WARRENSBURG – What looked like was going to be an easy victory for the Mules, turned out to be anything but. A turnover and touchdown all in the final 2:12 of the game helped the Mules survive 42-35 over Nebraska-Kearney on homecoming.
How it Happened
• Both teams scored 28 unanswered points at different times during the game.
• The Mules put up 450 yards of total offense while the Lopers were just a shade under 400 at 398.
• Central Missouri won the turnover battle 3-0 and scored 20 points off those turnovers, a touchdown on each drive.
• Neither team was very successful on third downs with UNK going 5-for-13 and the Mules 2-for-11.
• The Lopers, who ran 14 more plays than the Mules, controlled the ball for 35:30.
• Penalties were nearly the Mules downfall. They were charged with 17 for 173 yards.
• Despite 77 combined points, both teams struggled to score early. The Mules were forced to punt for third time in three possessions, but a short kick from Davidson bounced off the turf and into the back of a Loper and Jalen Marsalis was right there to jump on the fumble, setting the Mules up on the Loper 19 yard line. Five plays later, Kyle Bradley rushed it in from six yards out and UCM was on top, 7-0.
• Nebraska-Kearney was able to tie with a 12-play 79 yard drive culminating in a three-yard touchdown run.
• Between the second and third quarters, the Mules scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions and took what seemed like a commanding 35-7 lead.
• The stretch started when a Jacob Wiggins strip sack on fourth-down gave the Mules another short field to operate. In just 1:11, Kyrion Parker had his first touchdown, a 37-yarder that he caught off of a UNK deflection.
• With 1:20 left in the half, the Mules added to their lead. With two defenders on him, Zach Davidson was able to fight through pass interference and haul in a 26 yard score and it was 21-7 at the break.
• Two plays into the second half and it was 28-7 Mules. Devante Turner found a seem and scored from 39 yards out. Parker added his second TD of the game, pinning the ball against a Loper defender to secure an eight-yard score with 8:01 left in the half.
• That’s when the wheels started to fall off and it was the Lopers turn to score on four straight possessions. The following kickoff saw the Lopers return it 78 yards and punched it in on third and goal. Following a Mules three-and-out, the Lopers made it a two-score game on their first play, a 91-yard catch and run from Alex McGinnis to Montrez Jackson.
• Set up by a 24-yard punt return, the Lopers made it 35-28 with a one yard touchdown run near the end of the third quarter. With just under eight minutes to play, they tied the game with a 5:45, 13-play, 82-yard drive, capped off with a two yard rushing score.
• The Mules next possession saw them get into Loper territory, but the drive stalled at the 39 yard line. As the Lopers were again marching down the field to take the lead, a big hit from Trevore Sanders jarred the ball from the hands of Montrez Jackson and Codie Bell was there to scoop up the fumble and return it all the way down to the UNK 15 yard line.
• On third and goal from the six, Bradley found Parker in the back of the end zone for a six yard game-winning touchdown with just 1:19 left to play.
• On their final possession, the Lopers got to midfield and on fourth and five, were stopped a yard shy of a first down to end the game.
It Was Over When…
• With under one minute to play and forcing fourth-and-five on the 50-yard line, the Lopers hit a quick pass to the right, but Tommy Carter snuffed the play out and made the stop a yard shy of the first down marker, handing the ball back over the Mules.
Mules Stat Leaders
• Both Kyle Bradley and Jeremy Hunt got time at quarterback. Hunt finished 10-of-18 for 179 yards and two scores while Bradley was 8-for-12 for 73 and two more touchdown passes.
• Bradley also ran for 39 yards and a score.
• Big day for Kyrion Parker who caught nine passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
• Devante Turner rushed 12 times for 77 yards and a touchdown. Koby Wilkerson added 52 yards on nine carries.
• John Embrey led the defense with 11 tackles. He also added a sack.
• Codie Bell made 10 stops and had the game-changing 45-yard fumble return to set up the Mules final TD.
For the Lopers
• Darrius Webb led the team with 64 rushing yards on 16 carries.
• Alex McGinnis finished 9-of-20 passing for 177 yards and a touchdown.
• Montrez Jackson caught five passes for 156 yards and a score.
• Four different Lopers scored rushing touchdowns.
• Famous McKinnon made seven stops on defense.
News and Notes
• The win snaps a three-game Mule losing streak.
• It was a career day for Kyrion Parker who set career highs in receptions (9), receiving yards (146) and receiving touchdowns (3).
• Devante Turner‘s rushing touchdown was the 23rd of his career. He is one shy of eighth-place all-time at UCM.
• Central Missouri has now won six straight against the Lopers and are 8-2 all time, 6-1 under Coach Svoboda.
• Codie Bell’s 45 yard fumble return was not only the longest of the season, but the first fumble return for any yardage this season for UCM.
• It’s the final road game of the season for the Mules. They travel to St. Charles, Mo. to take on Lindenwood Saturday, Nov. 3 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.