(Courtesy of Rob McCutcheon from Central Missouri)

The University of Central Missouri Fighting Mules
used the lethal combination of a stellar running game and a suffocating
defense to hand Washburn a 28-14 loss and get head coach Willie Fritz
his 78th career win, tying him with Terry Noland as the all-time
winningest coach in UCM history.

When the game started it didn’t look as if it would go the
Mules way as junior quarterback Stinson Dean threw an interception to
the Ichabods’ Cary Williams, who returned it 49 yards for a score at
the 8:57 mark.

It was Dean’s first start in nearly four years (since high school),
but it didn’t take long for him to get back in the groove as he led
the Mules offense down the field for a 12 play, 65 yard scoring drive
that spanned a season long 6:24 on the next possession. Junior running
back Glenn Milner capped the march with a six-yard touchdown but perhaps
the biggest play of the drive was an acrobatic, juggling catch by junior
wideout Tim Richmond for 21 yards to convert on third and 12.

The Mules defense followed that by forcing WU into another
three-and-out, holding the Ichabods to only six plays in the first
quarter. The offense tried to capitalize on the next possession, but
stalled in Washburn territory and was forced to punt.
The defense came up big again though as senior free safety Kendall
Ricketts laid a big hit on WU quarterback Jordan Brill on third and
seven, while sophomore Adrian Chapman picked off the pass and returned
it 11 yards to the WU 21. Brill got up shaky and would not return until
the second half. Two plays later, Milner rolled around the corner from
21 yards out to give the Mules their first lead of the day with 11:15 to
go before the break.

Central Missouri kept the onslaught going as it forced Washburn into a
couple more three-and-outs before getting the ball back on its own 26
with 4:44 to go. UCM would move down the field in 13 plays and hand the
ball to Justin Gore, who coasted in from five yards out to give the
Mules a 21-7 lead with 14 seconds left on the clock.

The Central Missouri defense had some staggering numbers at the break.
It held Washburn to 20 total yards, including -1 yard passing and not
even a single first down on 16 plays. The Mules had 224 yards of offense
and 14 first downs while dominating the time of possession by a margin
of 20:30-to-9:30. Central Missouri ran 48 offensive plays in the half,
thanks in large part to the 135 yards rushing by Milner and Jeremy

The Mules came out in the second half and allowed the Ichabods to gain
a first down, but sacked Brill a few plays later and WU ended up netting
only six yards before being forced to punt.

That was all the Mules offense needed to put WU away though. UCM
marched a season-long 78 yards down the field in their first possession
of the half, capped by a third Milner score to make it 28-7 with 8:11
left in the third quarter.

The Mules looked as if they would pile it on when Justin Brown picked
off another WU pass at the UCM 20 and returned it all the way to the
home team’s 45 before getting knocked out of bounds. The Mules
returned the favor though, tossing another interception a couple plays
later to give it back to WU at its 36.

The Ichabods answered this time though, driving down the field and
scoring on a six-yard TD pass to Drameagon Powers. It cut the advantage
to a couple touchdowns, but that was as close as it would get. Anthony
Parks returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards and gave the field position
back to the Mules.

In the fourth quarter UCM gave the Ichabods one more chance, as Braden
had a controversial fumble that gave WU the ball back at the Mules 30
yard line. Brill went for the score on the next play but Ricketts was
there and picked off his first pass of the year, returning it 49 yards
to the WU 43 with 4:57 left. The Mules ran it seven consecutive times
and forced Washburn to burn its timeouts and get the clock down to 1:59
before turning it over on downs.

The Mules’ Bruce Williams iced it a couple plays later though,
picking off Brill for the fourth time and returning it 40 yards to the
WU 21. The Mules just ran out the clock from there.
Central Missouri finished the day with 374 yards of offense (201
rushing), compared to Washburn’s 142 total yards. Milner led the way
for UCM with 119 on the ground while Dean completed 15-of-25 for 173
yards in the air. Adrian Singletary led the Mules ‘D’ with seven
stops to help UCM to 2-0 in the MIAA for the first time since 2003.