East Central football coach Tim McCarty said nice people, good people make mistakes, too. He said that's how the team has dealt with defensive end Armonty Bryant's arrest in October on suspicion of felonious distribution of marijuana. Bryant served a three-week suspension and then returned to the team after he was given a suspended sentence.
“It's all behind him now,” McCarty said. “The team was really excited to have him back with us.”
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior helped East Central cap a strong stretch run to the season. The Tigers finished 6-5, which included a 31-17 victory over Southeastern State last Saturday. Bryant gave ECU the lead for good in the fourth quarter by returning a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown. The NCAA Division II All-American added a forced fumble, a quarterback hurry, nine tackles and four stops for minus-22 yards. Bryant had one sack for minus-7 yards.
The sack gave Bryant 27 1/2 for his career, breaking the previous school record set over the 2001-04 seasons by Justin Brown.
Bryant was The Oklahoman's only two-time Player of the Week honor. He was named the Great American Conference's Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
“His playing career will probably continue from here,” said McCarty, who added that a majority of NFL teams have scouted Bryant or inquired about the Wichita Falls, Texas, native.
*East Central defensive back Norris Wrenn might be getting a chance at an NFL camp next summer. He joined Bryant at cracking the school record book last week against Southeastern State. He had nine tackles, surpassing the 272 career stops totaled over the 1975-78 seasons by future San Diego Chargers linebacker Cliff Thrift.
*Central Oklahoma junior running back Joshua Birmingham was held in check Saturday by Northeastern State, but still set the Bronchos' career record for all-purpose yards.
Birmingham had 53 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards and 62 return yards on kickoffs, giving him a total of 4,639 career yards to pass Steve Tate's mark of 4,560 during the 1977-80 seasons.
Still, the end result of the game, a 22-20 loss, did not leave Birmingham in a celebratory mood.
“I wish I could have done more, but I'm not perfect,” he said. “All we have to do is come back in the offseason and get better.”
It's no surprise that Birmingham was a first-team selection on the All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association team. The young man is the go-to guy. Despite the Bronchos' lack of success this season, the junior from Luther appears to be one of the players who believes that first-year coach Nick Bobeck will return UCO football to its winning tradition.
“It will take some time, but as long as guys buy into what he wants to do, they'll get it figured out sooner or later,” Birmingham said.
*Northeastern State kicker Drew Patton had an eventful game Saturday.
After making two field goals in the first half of the RiverHawks' victory against Central Oklahoma, Ashton Dandy blocked his third attempt in the third quarter to keep it a one-possession game.
Still, Patton hit the game-winning field goal with 1:53 remaining.
“They were coming up the middle all game; they had a good rush,” Patton said. “Honestly, the last kick it wasn't as high as I'd liked it to be been, but I couldn't have done it without my line. It was a chip shot. I just had to get it up and in there.”
On top of the block, Patton had to deal with the strong winds.
“It was brutal out there,” he said. “It added about probably 20 yards on a field goal with the wind and took off probably about 30 against it. You really had to drive the ball. It cut down on my range a lot against it.”
Northeastern finished its season 4-6. The RiverHawks won their last four games.
*Southern Nazarene has won 13 consecutive games against Oklahoma Christian in women's basketball, including a 73-68 decision Tuesday night at Sawyer Center in Bethany. Annie Kassongo, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, had a triple double for SNU. She had 14 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots. Oumoul Thiam added 31 points for the Crimson Storm (2-0).
*Redshirt freshman Seth Heckart came off the bench Thursday to lead Central Oklahoma to an 88-70 men's rout over Southwestern Christian. Heckart had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. The Woodward product totaled seven steals, falling one shy of tying the school record shared by four players. David Thomas was the last to do it, in 2007 vs. Abilene Christian.
*The Oklahoma Baptist women had seven players in double-figure scoring Thursday night while crushing Dallas Christian, 114-36. Diamond Austin had a career-best 24 points for the Bison, who out-rebounded Dallas Christian 53-26 and forced 34 turnovers. OBU led 66-13 at the half.