The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks kept their playoff hopes alive with rousing 38-33 win over the 18th-ranked Central Missouri Mules on a Homecoming Saturday for Central. Quarterback Zach Miller threw for a season-high 252 yards and ran for the winning score.
The Mavericks had the first possession of the game and marched the ball to the Mules’ 23-yard line before fumbling on an option play. It was their 12th lost fumble of the year and their second in as many weeks on the opening drive.
Central Missouri moved the ball quickly down the field and scored when quarterback Eric Czerniewski hit DeMarco Cosby with a two-yard pass. The extra point failed, and the Mules led 6-0 after one.
The Mavericks stalled on their next drive, giving the ball back to Central Missouri. The Mules again earned six points, capping a 10-play, 77-yard drive with a one-yard rush by Czerniewski for a touchdown. Once again, kicker Mark Starks missed the PAT, and it was 12-0 Central Missouri.
UNO got on the board on its next possession. Keyed by 37 yards of rushing by John McCardle, the Mavs went 65 yards on just 7 plays. McCardle finished off the drive with a 7-yard run to the end zone to make it 12-7.
After forcing the Mules into a three-and-out on their next possession, the Mavericks got a break when punter Jordan Hofer could only advance the ball to the 48 yard line. Five plays later, Miller hit Brian McNeill with a 22-yard touchdown pass to put the Mavs in the lead, 14-12.
The Mavericks’ defense turned up the pressure, forcing a fumble that they recovered for the first time in 4 games. Three plays later, Miller bulled his way in from one yard out to boost the Mavs’ lead to 21-12.
Central Missouri got a big break when their punt bounced off the ground and hit a Maverick player. The Mules got the ball back on the UNO 45-yard line and cashed in when Czerniewski ran 9 yards for the score. Starks hit his first PAT of the game to make it 21-19 UNO at the half.
The Mules kept the momentum to start the second half. Glenn Milner pushed his way in from two yards out to put Central Missouri up 26-21. The drive was aided by a 62-yard pass from Czerniewski to Tim Richmond.
Another long pass helped Central Missouri boost its lead. Czerniewski hit Richmond with a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-21.
The Mavericks got back on the board on the last play of the third quarter. Miller directed a 52-yard drive, concluded by a 1-yard quarterback keeper. UNO trailed 33-28.
Defense turned the tide with nearly 10:30 remaining in the game. On fourth-and-one, Central Missouri decided to go for it inside the Mavericks’ 20-yard line. UNO stopped the Mules for a loss to take over on downs.
After a 28 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 33-31, UNO got the ball back with less than three minutes remaining. Beginning on their own 22-yard line, the Mavericks confidently moved the ball against the Mules’ defense. From the 43-yard line, Miller ran up the middle, getting free and finally plunging into the end zone to put UNO up 38-33.
The Mules got deep into the Mavericks’ end of the field but their last chance for the go-ahead score ended when Steve Janda intercepted a pass from Czerniewski as time ran out.
story courtesy of omavs.com