Jake Gandara had three rushing touchdowns, Clay McKenzie added one of his own in the fourth quarter, and Central Oklahoma beat Missouri Western 31-21 on Saturday in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play.
The Bronchos had to endure a 90-minute weather delay for the second consecutive week, but UCO persevered to come away with its first win of the season.
"We had a delay last week and we didn't handle it very well. We talked about it at length this week, about how to handle situations like that," head coach Nick Bobeck said. "It's not what happens, it's how you respond. And I was really proud of our kids for the way they responded."
The Bronchos held a 24-21 lead when lightning in the area caused a delay. When play resumed, UCO had the ball and was looking for a quick strike to score and possibly put the game away. The Bronchos were forced to punt though and turned to their defense.
And UCO's defense answered.
Freshman linebacker Chris Pogi forced a fumble and the Bronchos recovered. It gave UCO an edge and McKenzie would punctuate the drive with a touchdown that ultimately, put the game out of reach for Missouri Western.
T.J. Eckert threw for 264 yards on 15 of 23 passing. That was enough yards for the senior quarterback to move into fourth-place on the all-time passing list at Central Oklahoma. Eckert now has thrown for 4,777 yards needs just 74 yards next week to reach third place.
The Bronchos offense put up points because of its ground attack though. McKenzie finished with 55 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, his sixth of the year. Gandara had his best game of the season.
The junior runningback had 81 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 24, 9 and 2.
"He ran through some tackles early," Bobeck said. "He set the tone for the entire football game."
Gandara's three touchdowns gives him five on the season. Saturday was the first time a player scored three touchdowns in a game since McKenzie did it against Pittsburg State last November.
Josh Crockett had a big game on offense, bringing in six passes for 128 yards, and Rodriguez Coleman added five catches for 84 yards.
Seth Hiddink added a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter. He's also working his way up the UCO history books. Hiddink now has 292 career points, eight shy of second-place on the all-time list.
Riley Galyon led the Bronchos on the defense once again. He's led the team in tackles in each game this year and Saturday was no different.
Galyon finished with 12 tackles. Pogi, Vinnie Consentino and Hank Humphers each added a sack, and Braden Calip got an interception to finish off a solid day's work by the Central defense.
The Bronchos will travel to Emporia State in Week 5. UCO is home again the following week, Saturday, Oct. 8, against Northwest Missouri State.