UCM Falls in Home Opener


Photo by Addison Hammons

The team huddles before they start a play.

 The University of Central Missouri Mules faced the Washburn Ichabods in the Mules home opener Thurs Sept. 6. After facing Pittsburg State in the season opener and losing 21-10, the Mules were looking to come home with their first win of the season at home. The only thing standing in their way was Washburn riding high after their 45-3 win over the Lincoln University Blue Tigers in the Ichabod’s season opener in front of their home fans

  While the Mules lost the coin flip, Washburn elected to kick, giving the Mules the first chance to strike. It did not take them long to do just that. A 16-yard-run from Xavier Jackson to kick off the game set UCM to a quick series of plays to send them down the field. Double digit receptions from Jack Pospisil and Arkell Smith led them down the field for UCM quarterback Cedric Case to punch in the first touchdown of the game with a one yard run. Samuel Knowlton kicked the extra point leading the Mules 7-0.

  Washburn answered back with a few short passes leading to a 50 yard rush from Hunter Browning leaving the Ichabods at UCM’s seven yard line. The UCM defense held, holding a run from Taylon Peters to two yards and then forcing two incomplete passes. Washburn attempted a 21 yard field goal that was no good. UCM came with a few short plays, but couldn’t recover from an intentional grounding penalty leading to a punt on fourth and eighteen. Peter Afful for Washburn received and ran with the opportunity for a 51 yard return putting Washburn at the UCM 25 yard line. Washburn quarterback Kellen Simoncic connected with Collin Wilson to put Washburn on the scoreboard. With Kameron Lake missing the extra point, the Mules keep their lead 7-6.

  UCM wasted no time with a five yard rush and a 40 yard pass to Jackson to put the Mules within striking distance at the Ichabod’s thirty yard line. After inching their way closer to the endzone, the Mules leaned back on Jackson to give them their second touchdown with a three yard rush. Knowlton extended the Mule’s lead with an extra point pushing them to 14-6. UCM Noah Blair intercepted Simoncic’s throw and with a 31 yard return to put the Mules at the Washburn 35. As the second quarter started, the Mules didn’t slow down with Knowlton puting another three points up for UCM with a successful 25 yard field goal giving the Mules a lead of 17-6. 

  Washburn connected with a 32 yard pass to James Letcher Jr. for their second touchdown of the night. Washburn elected to go for a two-point conversion and failed on an incomplete pass, leaving the score at 17-12. UCM then answered back quickly with a 78 yard pass from Case to Smith for the Mules third touchdown putting their lead up to 24-12. Washburn then came back with their own long ball touchdown with Simoncic connecting with Afful for a 46 yard touchdown pass and Lake put the extra point up to take the score to 24-19.

  After halftime, Washburn received the kick and drove the ball down the field with a 24 yard rush from Peters and a 40 yard pass to Wilson, capped off with a 17 yard touchdown pass to Afful. After a successful extra point kick from Lake, Washburn took the lead for the first time in the game 24-26. Washburn did not look back. The very next play Bruner intercepted the pass from Case leading to another touchdown pass to Letcher Jr. and with Lake making the extra point attempt, Washburn pushed ahead even more to 33-24. 

  Both teams went back and forth for a few drives ending in a punt from both teams and then UCM interception by Cale Miller from the Washburn pass. The Ichabods responded by forcing a fumble out of Case in the endzone. Washburn then took that drive down the field ending in a 35 yard touchdown pass to Peters. Lake made the extra point the Ichabods up to 40-24. 

  UCM drove down the field and into the fourth quarter. Case connected with Malik Clayborn for a 37 yard touchdown pass and with a successful two-point conversion from a Avian Thomas rush put the Washburn lead back into closing distance at 40-32. With an interception by Isaac Montgomery shortly after the chances to close that gap were looking more reasonable for the Mules. The Washburn defense shut down the offense and with a missed field goal by Knowlton the game was still in the hands of Washburn. UCM forced a punt to Washburn to do the same just for UCM to force another punt. With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter Case threw an interception to Ichabods Bruner. UCM forced another punt giving them one last chance to score with a minute and thirty four seconds left, however the Ichabods defense forced four straight incomplete passes leaving Washburn to kneel out the rest of the clock with a score of 40-32. 

  The game that started as a shootout with a back and forth first half ended with a great showing from both defenses. UCM continues to seek its first win Sept. 17 at Northwest Missouri State University.

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