Central Oklahoma opens the home portion of its football season at 6 p.m. Saturday, taking on No. 16-ranked Pittsburg State (Kan.) at Wantland Stadium in Edmond.
Pitt State will offer quite a challenge for the Bronchos, who spent practice this week trying to plug leaks on defense after allowing 52 points in a season-opening loss at Missouri Southern. UCO surrendered 473 total yards to the Lions' triple-option offense. Missouri Southern sophomore quarterback Jay McDowell ran up 121 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 232 yards and two TDs.
The Lions needed every bit of it, too. They only beat Central by 14.
“We've got a talented football team. We can see that. But we've still got to bring some young kids along, young kids who are going to have to come up with some big plays for us,” UCO coach Nick Bobeck said. “The bright lights might have got to them a little bit, the speed of the game, and stopping the triple option is tough. But they kept fighting.”
Saturday, Pitt State will be led by junior quarterback Anthony Abenoja. He was chosen as Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Offensive Player of the Week after overwhelming Northeastern Oklahoma State. Abenoja accounted for 314 total yards and four touchdowns during the Gorillas' 45-6 rout.
*Northeastern A&M had six turnovers and 92 penalty yards in its 37-19 loss to previously winless Coffeyville (Kan.) last week. NEO, which fell from No. 7 to 17th in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll, only led once in the game, 13-6, after Sheldon Wilson's 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Coffeyville turned three NEO turnovers into 21 points.
The Red Ravens started the season with a 30-point loss to Hutchinson (Kan.) and 65-point setback to Trinity Valley (Texas). NEO hosts Trinity Valley on Oct. 5.
“This game was an example of a total lack of concentration and not being dialed in on our part,” NEO coach Sherad Poteete told the Miami News-Record. “Coffeyville didn't come out and just whip us. We didn't take care of our business.”