Mules football rallies to end season on high note

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — The Central Missouri Mules rallied from a 27-point first half deficit for a season-ending 48-34 win over Fort Hays State on Saturday afternoon at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field. The Mules scored 41 straight points after the Tigers took a 27-0 lead.
Central Missouri closes the seaon at 6-4 overall and 5-4 in MIAA play, while the Tigers fall to 5-5 overall and 3-5 in league play.
The Tigers (5-4, 3-4 MIAA) jumped on top on their first possession, driving 71 yards in seven plays capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Treveon Albert to Keaton Callins. The extra point was no good and FHSU led 6-0.
The Mules (5-4, 4-4 MIAA) appeared to return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but they were whistled for a block in the back at the Tiger 35. After the penalty, UCM started at the FHSU 45 yard line. The Mules drove to the Tiger three yard line, but to settle for a field goal try. UCM fumbled the snap and Hayden Hawk‘s pass fell incomplete and the Tigers took over.
Fort Hays State cashed in driving 97 yards in nine plays for another touchdown. Albert had a 27 yard run to give the Tigers some breathing room and later hit Ed Williams for a 35-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 13-0.
Central Missouri drove deep into Tiger territory again, but the Mules came up a yard short on fourth and four and the Tigers took over. Eleven plays and 84 yards later the Tiger lead was 20-0. FHSU converted three third downs on the drive, including third and goal when Albert hit Williams for a four yard score.
The Mules fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Tigers were back in business. Nine plays later they found pay dirt again. Albert ran this one in from two yards out and Fort Hays State led 27-0.
LaVance Taylor gave the Mules a jump start, returning the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the Tiger 39. A Hawk rush of 22 yards on third and two gave the Mules a first and goal. A pass interference call in the end zone gave the Mules a first and goal at the two and Ray Harris leapt over the pile on the next play to get UCM on the board at 27-7.
The Mules forced a punt on the next Tiger possession and took over at their own 19. Hawk hit Ronrei Lloyd for a gain of 16 to give UCM a first down near midfield. Evan Campbell had a nice 11 yard gain and 16-yard pass to Taylor gave the Mules a first down at the Tiger 15. UCM gained a first and goal at the one yard line on a Campbell run. After three straight runs were stuffed by the Tiger defense, Hawk found Cullen Rosine wide open in the back of the end zone on fourth down to pull the Mules to within 27-14 at halftime.
The Mules picked up where they left off in the second half. Hawk hit Sean Gorman on the first play of the period for a 45 yard gain into FHSU territory and four plays later he hitJosh Pickrell for his first career touchdown to pull UCM within 27-21.
After a couple of stalled drives the Mules took over at their own 24 with 5:46 left in the third quarter. On 2nd and 2, Hawk hit Anthony Kirkwood for a 27-yard gain into Tiger territory. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on gave the Mules a 1st and 10 at the FHSU 26. UCM drove it down to the Tiger one and on third down, Harris rushed it in for his second touchdown of the day and the Mules’ first lead of the game at 28-27.
Central Missouri extended the lead to 35-27 early in the fourth quarter when Hawk hit Ronrei Lloyd for a 52-yard scoring strike.
On the second play of FHSU’s ensuing possession, Alex Perlin picked off an Albert pass and returned it to the Tiger 16. four plays later Hawk found Kirkwood for a five-yard score and UCM led 41-27.
The Tigers responded with a seven play, 77-yard drive to pull within 41-34. Albert found Keaton Callins for a four-yard touchdown to pull FHSU within a score.
That lasted all of one play, LaVance Taylor took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, his second straight game with a kick return for a score, and UCM led 48-34.
The Mules finished with 504 yards of total offense, the fourth straight game with 500 yards or more. UCM had 164 on the ground and 313 through the air.
Hawk finished the day 27 of 35 for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Lloyd had five catches for 111 yards and a score. He finishes his career second on Central Missouri’s career receiving yards list with 2,192. He is fourth all-time with 19 receiving touchdowns and tied for fifth with 131 career catches. His 69 catches this season are the sixth most in a single-season in school history, while his 1,222 receiving yards are second most and his 11 touchdown grabs are tied for the fourth most in a season.
Taylor finished with 296 all-purpose yards, the second most in a single game in school history. He had 176 return yards, 80 yards rushing and 40 yards receiving.
Defensively, Perlin led UCM with nine tackles, a quarterback sack and an interception. Ricky Spratley had eight stops, while seniors Ryan Berry and Paul Hughes closed their careers with seven tackles each.
Albert led FHSU with 313 passing yards and four touchdowns on 21 of 40 passing. Andre Smith added 88 yards rushing on 15 carries. Callins had 149 receiving yards and two scores on eight catches, while Williams had three grabs for 49 yards and two scores.
Michael Terry and Justin McPhail had nine tackles apiece to lead the Tiger defense. Terry added 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Micheal Jordan had seven tackles and an interception.
The Mules close the season at 6-4 overall, their seventh straight winning season and 15th in the last 16 seasons. The win also gives UCM eight straight over FHSU, four consecutive wins for the first time this season and the four-game winning streak to close out the season is the first since 1988.