In an absolute shocker on Saturday afternoon, BR-36 Fort Hays State routed BR-8 Central Missouri 45-17. With the win, the 36-ranked Tigers reached seven wins for the first time since 1996, and eliminated all hope the Mules had of a playoff berth. It was also Fort Hays State’s first win over Central Missouri since joining the MIAA conference in 2006. In fact, they hadn’t beat the Mules since 1965 (to be fair they didn’t play from 1966 to 2005, but still).
The loss dropped Central Missouri to 7-4. and only has itself to blame for the missed playoff berth after Saturday’s performance.
The Mules came out flat at home, giving up 14 points in the first quarter and 28 by the halfway mark. The crowd of 2,134 watched on helplessly in the first half as Quinten Darby converted his only two rushes of the game into two scores, each from inside two yards.
While Darby got the touchdown glory for the Tigers, it was his backfield-mates Edward Smith and Kenneth Iheme that stole the show. Smith averaged 12 yards per touch on 12 carries en route to 145 yards. When he needed a breather, Iheme did the dirty work, pounding out 115 on 29 touches.
The duo helped Fort Hays State go over 200 rushing yards for the third contest in a row, amassing 260 of the Tigers’ 384 total yards during the route.
Other than the rushing performance of RB LaVance Taylor, the home crowd didn’t have much to cheer about. Taylor went for 149 yards on 22 carries, but the rest of the backfield could muster only 16 yards.
The Central Missouri offense, one of the best in the conference up to this point, managed only 314 total yards on the day, well below their season-average of 441. The Tigers dominated the Mules thanks to Brock Long’s 11 tackles. Justin McPhail accounted for nine tackles of his own, giving him a team-best 108 on the year.
Long and McPhail gave Central Missouri’s Hayden Hawk fits all day, holding the QB to just 172 yards on 20-of-38 passing. He was also sacked three times on the afternoon and never really found a rhythm.
The victory sends Fort Hays State into the offseason with a lot to be excited about. Head coach Chris Brown improved his overall record at the school to 22 wins and 22 losses. Over the past four years, the school has steadily improved its win totals by one game each season.
For Central Missouri, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that the team will have all winter to think about.