“When we played them last season, I thought they had some good, young players,” he said. “Their program has a pretty good tradition, too. But they stepped up today and made some key plays, and that's what they needed to do to win. You've got to hand it to UCO.”
UCO (1-3 overall, 1-2 MIAA) had reasons to give up Saturday, “because we made our share of mistakes,” Bobeck said.
But instead of letting Washburn (3-1, 2-1) steal the momentum, the Bronchos made big plays when they counted most. Chris Robbs salvaged two stalled drives with 25- and 28-yard field goals, giving Central Oklahoma a 6-0 lead in the second quarter. Washburn countered with Mitch Buhler's 32-yard touchdown pass to Matt Kobberman with 13 seconds before halftime for a 7-6 Ichabods lead. Washburn made it 14-6 early in the third quarter on Donnie Lockhart's 1-yard run.
But UCO rallied back. Quarterback Adrian Nelson and Marquis Walters hooked up for a 92-yard touchdown, the third-longest scoring connection in school history. Defensive end Colton Byford helped give UCO a 20-14 lead late in the third quarter. He jumped to break up a Buhler pass but instead came down with the football. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder lumbered 25 yards to the end zone, dragging a couple of Washburn players with him.
The Bronchos even took advantage of what they were given by officials. Two pass interference penalties in the end zone against Washburn contributed to a five-play, 73-yard drive capped by Christian Bobo's 1-yard TD run with 8:33 left in the game. Joshua Birmingham, who finished with a game-high 137 yards rushing, gave the Bronchos a 21-point lead with 2:58 left on an 8-yard touchdown carry.
“The first three games, we had some breaks go against us and we let those affect us,” Bobeck said. “Today, we missed some opportunities, but we kept on playing hard. And when you do that, you win. I'm proud of them.”