The No. 20 Central Missouri Mules topped the 25 th ranked Washburn Ichabods in a wild fourth quarter shootout, 43-34, Saturday afternoon at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field.
Junior utility man Bobby Guillory iced the game with a 25-yard touchdown scamper on fourth and two with 5:07 left in the game. He took the direct snap and out-ran defenders down the left side to pay dirt.
The Mules (4-0, 2-0 MIAA) moved out to their best start since 2003 while the Ichabods dropped to 2-2 overall, 0-2 in MIAA play. Central Missouri never trailed in the game and led by as many as 16 before the Ichabods rallied in the fourth quarter to cut the margin down to two.
Central Missouri took its opening drive 66 yards down the field for a 7-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Eric Czerniewski to sophomore tight end DeMarco Cosby, making it the fourth game in a row the Mules have scored on their first possession.
The Ichabods struck right back with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Jake Iverson to Drameagon Powers on third down. He out-ran the Central Missouri defenders up the middle of the field to knot the score at seven.
The defense got on the board for the Mules next as junior safety Mike Stevenson sacked WU backup quarterback Dane Simoneau in the endzone, forcing a fumble. The Ichabods recovered it, giving the Mules a safety and a lead they would not relinquish.
Senior defensive end John Wood came up big the next time WU had the ball as he stripped the ball from Powers on a wide receiver screen pass, and sophomore defensive back Karl Parker fell on it at the 50 yard line.
The Mules would turn that into a touchdown when Czerniewski hit junior Tim Richmond for a 35-yard score to make it 16-7 with nine seconds left in the first quarter. Czerniewski would hit Richmond again in the second quarter on the Mules next drive for a 66-yard pass play that got UCM down to the WU 10. It was the first 100-yard receiving day of his career and first for Central Missouri this season. Czerniewski finished it off with his third touchdown pass of the day, this time to senior wide receiver Edgar Givens from five yards out to make it 23-7.
The Ichabods got a huge touchdown just before halftime (13 seconds left) when they drove 86 yards on 14 plays, taking 6:32 off the clock. Iverson hit tight end Cameron Knox from two yards out for the score to cut it to 23-14.
The Mules out-gained the Ichobods 270-to-190 in the half, while Czerniewski was 11-of-16 for 203 yards and the three scores.
The defenses dominated the third quarter with punts on the first seven possessions and only one first down combined (by the Mules). Central Missouri’s defense scored for the second time though on the next WU possession. Stevenson was the big play man again, picking off Iverson at the WU 39 and running it all the way back for a touchdown. The Mules missed the extra point to make it 29-14 with 3:46 left in the third quarter.
That just set the stage for the final period though. The Ichabods stormed back, scoring on a one-yard quarterback sneak from Iverson to make it a one possession game. The Mules offense stalled again on the next drive and Washburn got a huge play from its special teams when it blocked the Mules’ punt and recovered it at the UCM 20. Iverson punched it in again from the one and the Ichabods were only a two-point conversion away from tying the score at 29. Iverson’s pass out into the flat was low though, and the Mules were in a fight, up only 29-27 with 11:56 left in the game.
A 33 yard kick return by sophomore running back Zain Gower had the Mules starting on their 45 and three rushes later, the Mules were up 36-27. Guillory roared in the endzone from 41 yards out thanks to some good blocking and open field speed down the left side.
The Mules looked as if they would have a chance to build on that lead after stuffing the Ichabods on the next drive but Guillory made a mental mistake when he failed to get out of the way of a bouncing punt that hit him in the leg. The Ichabods recovered at the Central Missouri 28 and scored on the next play thanks to a TD pass from Simoneau to Powers, making it 36-34 with 8:39 left.
The UCM offense came up with another clutch drive on the next possession though, and Guillory made up for his mistake with his second rushing score of the day. He returned the kick to the Mules’ 45 as well to give UCM good field position to start the drive. A big third down conversion catch by senior running back Glenn Milner that saw him hurdle a defender and spin past another for a 20-yard gain kept the drive alive.
The Mules finished with 405 yards of offense while WU had 363 on the day. Central Missouri out-rushed the Ichabods 170-to-68 in the game as well while Milner had 72 yards on the ground and 57 yards receiving. Guillory finished with 146 all-purpose yards and the Mules offense didn’t have a turnover.
Senior bandit backer Steven Ehase led the defense with 10 stops while classmate Adrian Singletary had seven tackles (two for loss). Wood was in the backfield all day with a sack, two batted passes, and a couple quarterback hurries to go with his forced fumble.
The Mules will hit the road next week for a huge match-up with Pittsburg State at 2:00 p.m. in Pittsburg, Kan.