SHAWNEE — Oklahoma Baptist continued to beat itself Saturday at Hurt Field, and as a result, the Bison's first football season in 73 years is off to an 0-2 start.
OBU gave up 17 more points off turnovers, helping St. Mary (Kan.) post a 36-30 NAIA football victory.
A week after surrendering 19 points off seven turnovers in a 26-22 loss to Southwestern (Kan.), OBU was again in a gift-giving mood. A crowd of 4,073 saw the Bison come close a second consecutive week but fall just short because of issues with ball security.
“That kills you,” OBU coach Chris Jensen said. “We're coming so close, but we're just not getting the job done. I'm disappointed for the kids, but we're going to put it together and win some games.”
Overall, Jensen was pleased with his ballclub's improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. The Bison collected 318 total yards of offense, and they were penalized just twice for 10 yards.
But three first-half turnovers all led to points, and OBU will make its first road trip next weekend without a win.
St. Mary defensive back Ukpono Udi had two interceptions, the first leading to Will Ryan's 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that helped give the Spires a 14-7 lead.
OBU tied it early in the second quarter on Darryl Fields' 10-yard run, but Jordan Barnes' fumble at the OBU 34 would lead to St. Mary's Trevor Spaulding kicking a 31-yard field goal few minutes later.
The killer came with 22 seconds left in the half, however. With OBU deep in St. Mary territory, Bison quarterback Cale Grauer looked left and launched a pass that was picked off by Udi at the St. Mary 3-yard line. The senior had clear sailing down the sideline for a touchdown. Although Oklahoma Baptist returned a blocked PAT for two points, it still trailed 23-16 at the half.
“There were other mistakes that hurt us, mistakes that were not obvious,” Jensen said. “Maybe they don't put us in a situation where we have to pass the ball. But we challenged Cale and the backs to protect the ball in the second half, and they did that.”
And because of that, OBU still had a chance to win it. The Bison tied the game 23-23 early in the third quarter on Fields' 1-yard TD run and then 30-30 in the fourth quarter on Grauer's 32-yard pass to wide open Nyko Symonds.
St. Mary, playing its first game of the season, scored the winner with 47 seconds left in the game. Spires quarterback Josh Ervin found Ronnie Cooper behind the Bison secondary for a 58-yard touchdown.
“It's important to make progress every week, and I think we're doing that” Jensen said. “But the thing is, this one still hurts.”
OBU appeared it would turn the turnover tables early in the game, when defensive back Eugene Estes stepped in front of a receiver and intercepted an Ervin pass. Estes returned the ball 29 yards for a touchdown, and Austin Manger added the point-after kick, and the Bison led 7-0.
Defensive lineman Matt Shirey came up with a fumble recovery later in the quarter that stopped a St. Mary drive at OBU's 12. But with 1:10 left in the first and the game tied 7-7, the turnover plague started again when Udi snagged the first of his two interceptions.