EDMOND, OK -- East Central’s Tigers fell victim to seven turnovers - four interceptions and three lost fumbles - as the University of Central Oklahoma beat the Tigers 30-17 in Lone Star Conference North football action Saturday at Wantland Stadium.
ECU, which fell to 3-7 overall and 2-2 in the LSC North, had yet another good day through the airways, compiling 382 yards. However, the Tigers were held to minus-9 yards rushing while going 0-for-12 in third-down conversions.
UCO, 6-4 and 4-0, earned its sixth straight victory after an 0-4 start on the season and captured at least a share of the LSC North Division title.
ECU junior quarterback Marcus Johnson broke his own school record for passing yards in a season as he now stands at 2,854.
He was 34-of-56 passing for the 382 yards with two touchdown tosses of 9 yards to Tyrone Gibbs and 28 to Keewan King. However, Johnson did throw four interceptions and was sacked five times.
King led all receivers with seven catches for 91 yards and the TD while Gibbs finished with six receptions for 76 yards and one score. Quade Soffel also had six grabs for 42 yards for the Tigers.
The Tigers also received a 23-yard field goal from Corey Dozier early in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
Meanwhile for the Bronchos, quarterback Brandon Noohi engineered an offense which rolled up 392 yards, including 281 through the air. Noohi was 24-of-49 passing with one TD on a 7-yard scoring toss to Daniel Morrell late in the third quarter.
UCO jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, scoring on its first possession on a 3-yard run by Da’Marean Pullen to cap a nine-play, 72-yard drive with 9:23 left in the opening quarter. Chad Susman’s PAT made it 7-0.
ECU, thanks to a 63-yard kickoff return by Dominique Brooks to the Broncho 32-yard line, answered the call as Johnson hooked up with Gibbs on the 9-yard scoring toss to cap a short four-play series with 7:51 remaining in the first quarter. However, the point-after kick was blocked as the score remained 7-6.
UCO then responded with an eight-play, 65-yard drive which led to Pullen’s second TD run of the day off a 2-yarder with 4:50 to go in the first period. Susman’s PAT made it 14-6.
The Bronchos then scored on their third straight possession on Noohi’s 8-yard run early in the second quarter. Susman’s ensuing kicked upped the count to 21-6.
UCO then scored off its fourth straight possession on Susman’s 31-yard field goal with 7:46 left before halftime.
The Tigers had a chance to cut into the lead at the break, getting down to the UCO 2-yard line. But Johnson’s pass was picked off with 11 seconds to go as the Bronchos opted to run out the clock and settle for the 24-6 halftime advantage.
ECU made interesting in the third quarter, going 66 yards in only four plays to pull within 24-14 with 10:07 remaining. Johnson connected with tailback Joshua Maldanado on a 39-yard pass, and two plays later, passed to King for the 28-yard score. Johnson then hooked up with Ryan McGuire on the 2-point conversion pass.
But ECU threw an interception and lost a fumble on its next two possessions as UCO ultimately went up 30-14 on Noohi’s scoring pass to Morrell.
Defensively for the Tigers, Brooks led the way with 12 unassisted tackles and assisted on another while breaking up a pass.
UCO’s K.C. Asiodu recorded three sacks, forced a fumble and broke up a pass.
ECU closes out the 2008 season next Saturday by visiting Southeastern Oklahoma State for a 2 p.m. kickoff in Durant.