Mules stave off Lions 35-28 in St. Charles

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(ST. CHARLES, Mo.) — The Central Missouri Mules scored a late touchdown on the legs of LaVance Taylor to hold off Lindenwood 35-28 on Saturday night at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium. The Mules move to 2-1 on the seaon and 2-1 in MIAA play.
The Lions (2-1, 2-1 MIAA) got on the board first taking the opening possession of the game down the field before settling for a 21-yard field goal by James Neal. The Mules (2-1, 2-1 MIAA) had forced a three and out, but an illegal substitution penalty against UCM gave the Lions new life on the drive.
The Mules turned the ball over on their first possession when Colter Smith was picked off by Pierre Desir on third and long. Desir returned the ball near midfield and gave the Lions great field position. The Mules defense recorded a sack on the first play of the drive and then forced a fumble on third down to force a punt.
On the ensuing possession the Mules drove from their own 26 in 12 plays before Taylor punched it in from two yards out to give UCM a 7-3 lead.
After forcing a punt on the next possession the Mules took over at their own 23 yard line. Smith rushed for 16 yards on third and 11 to extend the drive then hit Ronrei Lloyd for a 62-yard bomb to give UCM a 14-3 lead.
On the first play of the next drive Latavious Davis sacked LWU quarterback Ben Gomez and forced a fumble. David Bax recovered the fumble at the Lindenwood 12 to set UCM up with great field position. The Mules failed to capitalize, however, going three and out and missing a 24 yard field goal wide right.
After a couple of stalled drives by both teams the Lions took over deep in their own territory at the nine-yard line. On third and 10 from the 32 Gomez hit Alex Robinson for 49 yards down to the UCM 19. Two plays later Gomez hit Matt Angell for a six-yard score to pull LWU within 14-10 with just over two minutes left in the half.
On UCM’s next possession Smith rolled right and threw back across his body and was intercepted by James Wofford, who returned the ball to the UCM 22. The Mule defense held, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Lions a first and goal at the 10. The defense forced a three and out and the Lions settled for a James Neal 28 yard field goal to pull within 14-13 at halftime.
The Mules got the ball to start the second half and drove 67 yards in nine plays capped by Taylor’s second touchdown of the game from 10 yards out. The touchdown run gave the Mules a 21-13 lead with 11:17 to play in the third quarter.
Denodus O’Bryant took the ensuing kickoff from six yards deep in the end zone and returned it right up the middle for a 100-yard touchdown. Neal tacked on the extra point after a delay of game penalty and it was 21-20 UCM.
Taylor returned the favor on the subsequent kickoff returning it 83 yards to the Lion 10-yard line. Two plays later Colter Smith ran it in from nine yards out to put the Mules back in front by eight at 28-20.
Each team had a couple of stalled drives after that with UCM turning the ball over on downs on consecutive possession inside the Lindenwood 40 with the last closing out the third quarter.
Starting the fourth quarter at their own 34, the Lions drove down inside the Mule 5 for a first and goal. The UCM defense held for three plays, but on fourth and goal from the one, Gomez ran it up the middle for a touchdown. The ensuing two-point conversion was good and the game was tied 28-all with just under 11 minutes to play in the game.
Each team went three and out on their next possession. After a 48-yard punt the Mules took over at their own 19 with 6:01 to play in the game.
On third and four from their own 25, Smith found Taylor for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the Central Missouri 44. After a four-yard completion to David Cannon, Smith hitKevin Johnson over the middle for 26 yards and a first down at the Lion 26 yard line. Two plays later, Taylor ran around right end and outraced the defenders to the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown, his third of the night, to put UCM in front 35-28.
The Lions had one last crack at tying the game. After a first down gain to their own 40, Gomez was sacked by Latavious Davis and fumbled. The Lions recovered at their own 28 setting up second and 22. After a short completion to Bryant, Gomez was picked off by Kadarius Green near midfield sealing the win for UCM.
The Mules out-gained the Lions 441-315 including 156-53 on the ground.
Taylor finished the day with 96 yards rushing on 17 carries with three TDs. He amassed 275 all-purpose yards, the fourth highest single-game total in UCM history.
Smith was 26-of-41 for 285 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Lloyd led all UCM receivers with 92 yards on five catches with a touchdown.
UCM was 9-of-15 on third downs and held the Lions to 6-of-17 on third down conversions.
Defensively, Latavious Davis was a monster. He had nine tackles, four and a half tackles for loss, three sacks and three forced fumbles and also added a pass break-up. Green had six tackles to go along with his game-sealing INT. As a unit, the Mules had 12 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Lindenwood was led by Gomez’s 262 passing yards on 21-of-34. He had one touchdown and one interception. O’Bryant had 271 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
The Mules are back in action on Thursday night. UCM will host Truman State at 7 p.m. at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field in the CBS Sports Network/NCAA Division II Game of the Week. The game will be broadcast to a national television audience on CBS Sports Network.