Mules football hosts No. 3 Northwest Mo.


Photo by JerryDeanPhotography

Running back Markel Smith eludes Missouri Western line backer Darrian Bass on his way to positive yards.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The Mules return home to host third-ranked Northwest Missouri State for their annual blackout game Saturday, Sept. 19 at Walton Stadium. The Mules are looking for their first win over Northwest Missouri State since 2012, when they defeated then No. 3 Northwest 31-21. The 2012 victory is also the last time the Mules defeated a top five-ranked team.
The Mules are coming off a 45-34 loss at Emporia State over the weekend. The game was suspended on Thursday night with the game tied 24-24 at halftime. Playing a three-day game is unheard of for football, but that was the case for the Mules this past weekend. Playing the second half Saturday, the Hornets outscored the Mules 21-10.
UCM played a game against Central Oklahoma that lasted two days in 2012. Central Missouri trailed the Bronchos 10-6 when the game was suspended due to lightning. UCM defeated Central Oklahoma 47-17 the following afternoon.
Svoboda said suspended games are not an enjoyable experience.
“There’s so much to get ready for on that day, it’s tough to try and do that twice,” Svoboda said. “We traveled day-of twice. I didn’t hear a peep of complaining from the players.”
Svoboda said it was never an option to resume the game Friday.
“There were no hotels available for our party of 90,” Svoboda said. “I didn’t want to drive all the way back and then travel the next day and try to play.
“Emporia is one of those in-between travel distances for us, about two and a half hours. Our kids accepted the situation and made the best of it. It was a challenge.”
Redshirt junior quarterback Garrett Fugate had a total of 484 yards of total offense for UCM. He was 24 of 37 passing for 371 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Zachery was Fugate’s most frequent target. Zachery had a career high of six receptions for a total of 159 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, junior redshirt defensive backs Diaron Rhodes had seven solo stops with a pass breakup and a forced fumble, while Teavin Teamer had six tackles, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
The Bearcats are No. 3 in the AFCA poll and fifth in the poll, while the Mules are now unranked in both polls.
The Bearcats are coming off a 48-7 home win over Missouri Southern and are 2-0 on the season. In the first two games of the season, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents 79-7. Northwest is averaging 429 yards per game in total offense and hold their opponents to just 199.5 yards of total offense per game.
Svoboda said a tough loss last week, and a tougher opponent this week has motivated the team.
“The upside is, coming off a loss and playing a team like Northwest, our kids immediately got focused in practice,” Svoboda said. “Not a lot of hangover from the game last week. We just have to get back to work.”
The Mules seem to come back strong after taking a loss. In the last six years the Mules are 13-4 following a loss, averaging 36.8 points per game.
Kickoff at Walton Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m.