TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma — No. 21 Central Missouri dismantled Northeastern State 70-7 on Thursday, Sept. 12, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to move to 2-0 in the MIAA.
“What we wanted to do was we wanted to improve and so I challenged the kids individually to see how they could elevate their game and not necessarily look at the score or the record of the team they were playing and to play to their own standards and for the most part, I thought they really did that,” Central Missouri coach Jim Svoboda said in his post game radio interview with Greg Hassler.
The Riverhawks (0-2) came into the game on a 13-game losing streak and has had just six wins in the last five seasons.
Central Missouri needed just two plays to claim a lead that was never threatened as Brook Bolles hit Shae Wyatt for a 60-yard catch-and-run score.
Bolles tossed an interception on the second Mules drives, the first of two on the night, before responded with two more touchdown passes — an 11-yard pass to Cam Saunders and a 27-yard pass to Koby Wilkerson — to give the Mules a 21-0 cushion seven minutes, 27 seconds into the contest.
The Riverhawks put their lone points on the board with 19 seconds left in the first quarter, parlaying the second Bolles interception into a four-yard touchdown run by Kobe Bryer.
“I think sometimes we lacked a little bit of discipline, just in saying we can kind of do what we want against these guys and we don’t have to do the disciplined things that you normally have to do and you saw that in some instances on offense and defense where we kind of relied on our athletic ability,” Svoboda said.
Wilkerson did most of the work for the Mules fourth touchdown, carrying the ball three times for 42 yards, capping off the six-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
“Just to never sleep on a team like this,” Wilkerson said on the team’s mindset going into the game. “We still respect them, (we wanted to) come in and play the same ball that we always play, like in the first game, and come in with high energy and it showed.”
Another quick drive by UCM extended the lead out to 34-7 at the 11:34 mark in the second quarter as Bolles connected with Ryan Devore from seven yards out.
The Mules defense set the table for the team’s sixth touchdown of the night as Carter Nicoli forced his second fumble of the year, this time recovering the ball himself at the 11-yard line.
Devante Turner needed just one run to turn the fumble into points.
Bolles capped his night off with a 30-yard touchdown run to set the score at 49-7.
The senior quarterback followed up his MIAA Offensive Player of the Week-worthy week one performance by going 10 of 18 for 246 yards with four touchdowns opposed to two interceptions while also running for 45 yards and a score.”
“Had two picked there, that weren’t very good balls,” Bolles said. “Obviously could have played better on offense, I felt like we left some scores out there, but got the job done tonight.”
Backup Kyle Bradley took over the signal caller spot before the halftime horn sounded and led the Mules on one more scoring drive before the intermission.
Bradley connected with Devore, who finished with two catches for two scores and 43 yards, on a 36-yard pass to send Central Missouri into the locker room up 56-7.
Central Missouri cruised through the second half, picking up two more scores in the final 30 minutes action.
Salvatore Garrozo scored his second career touchdown on a one-yard scamper — both of Garrozo’s touchdowns have come against the Riverhawks — at the 8:18 mark of the third quarter.
Bradley added the finishing touch to his night by plowing his way to a nine-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Bradley finished 6 of 9 for 114 yards and a touchdown in relief.
Central Missouri tallied 592 yards of offense in the win with 411 of those yards coming in the explosive first half.
The Mules used nearly everyone in the win with 10 players rushing the ball at least once and eight players catching a pass.
“We have a bunch of weapons and the ammunition is hot too,” Wilkerson said. “We are trying to get everybody the rock and whoever gets it tries to score. With as many weapons as we have, we are going to get everybody the rock and when everybody does, we are going to make something happen.”
Jalen Marsalis was the Mules leading receiver, hauling in four catches for 98 yards. Wyatt averaged 44 yards a reception, catching two passes for 88 yards and a score.
Roosevelt Abrams was Central Missouri’s leading rusher with 62 yards on 14 carries, taking the bulk of the work on the ground in the second half.
The Mules defense held Northeastern to just 166 yards of total offense and just 66 yards in the dominant first half. The Riverhawks were 4 of 17 on third down conversions and punted nine times as well as coughing the ball up three times with two fumbles recovered by UCM.
No. 21 Central Missouri will head to St. Joseph to face Missouri Western in week three.
The Griffons are coming off a 28-17 upset of No. 25 Fort Hays State in Hays, Kansas.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Spratt Stadium.