By Katie Tooley, Ottawa (Kan.) Sports Information Director
OTTAWA, Kan. – What does 1952 mean Brave Nation? Well, 1952 was the last time that Ottawa (Kan.) defeated Missouri Valley on OU’s campus. The Braves rectified the situation by defeating the no. 2 ranked team in the NAIA with a 20-6 victory over the Vikings on Saturday night at Peoples Bank Field.
The OU special teams came up with a big play on the very first Missouri Valley offensive series. On a bad snap by the MVC long snapper, Matt Sandgren tackled MVC punter Matt Lavender to give OU the ball at the Viking 18 yard line. One play later OU hit pay dirt. Michael Behr connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Dexter Hayes. After the Jeff Stamp extra point OU led 7-0.
On the next offensive possessions by both teams each defense held, forcing punts. After OU’s punt gave the Vikings the ball on the OU 43 yard line, MVC cut into the Braves’ lead. The Vikings put together a five-play, 43-yard drive, capping it with a Bruce Reyes pass to Del’Von Franklin for the touchdown. The extra point attempt by Dan Mouro was no good and OU still led 7-6 with 7:44 to go in the first quarter.
After OU was forced to punt again, the Viking offense received the ball at the OU 34 yard line. The Braves’ defense came up huge, forcing a fourth down and 10 from the OU 22 yard line. OU forced an incomplete pass, giving the Braves the ball at its own 22 yard line.
The OU offense was not able to sustain the drive, punting again to Missouri Valley. The OU defense again came up with a big play. The Vikings drove the ball down to the OU 24 yard line and were facing a third and eight. OU defensive back Erik Brown intercepted his first ball of the night, giving the Braves the ball on their own 24 yard line.
OU’s offense though was forced to punt again, giving MVC the ball at the Vikings’ own 11 yard line. Again the Braves’ defense stepped up. On a first and five for MVC, Jake Granitz forced a fumble. John Walker recovered it at the OU 39 yard line and the Braves’ offense was back in business.
Two plays later the Braves’ offense cashed in. Behr found a wide open Jon Hilliger for the 46 yard touchdown. The extra point try on a run by Travis Adamson was just short and OU led 13-6 at the 9:17 mark in the second quarter.
In the final nine minutes of the half, the OU defense earned its second and third fourth down stops of the game and the Brave special teams forced a field goal to go wide. With those stops OU took a 13-6 lead into the half.
The Braves received the ball to start the second half but were forced the punt. MVC put together a drive and had a fourth and nine from the OU 18 yard line. The OU special teams came up big again. Brown blocked a 35 yard field goal attempt by Mouro. Morey Croson picked up the ball and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. The Stamp extra point was good and OU now led 20-6 with 10:06 to go in the third quarter.
On the MVC next offensive possession the Vikings drove the ball down to the OU eight yard line. They were facing a fourth and eight. MVC decided to go for it. Reyes completed the ball to Jacoby Bellard. He was tackled at the two by Croson and DeVontae Corbitt to give OU the ball on downs.
Both teams exchanged punts and with 12:31 to go in the fourth quarter, MVC received the ball on its own 48 yard line. The Vikings moved the ball with the pass, driving it down to the OU 19 yard line. Once again OU’s defense stood firm. Deron Bruce sacked Reyes at the OU 26 on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Braves on their own 26 yard line.
On the Braves next offensive possession, OU had its first turnover of the 2013 season. The ball fell out of Behr’s grip, giving MVC good field position at the OU 15 yard line. The Braves’ defense came away with the stop. On first and five from the OU 5, Brown intercepted Reyes in the end zone. The OU offense held on to the ball for the next three minutes before being forced to punt.
Like the last MVC offensive possession, this one ended the same way. Brown intercepted the Reyes pass that was intended for Johnathon Bird and OU had the ball on its own 43 yard line with 2:07 to go in the game. The Braves were forced to punt, giving MVC the ball on its own 25 yard line with 54 seconds left on the clock.
Six plays later OU defensive lineman Dean Bisterfeldt sacked Reyes at the OU 41 yard line, giving the Braves the ball with 16 left in the contest. The Braves lined up in the victory formation and after the Behr kneel down OU took the 20-6 victory.
OU was led on defense by John Walker with a career high 14 tackles and one fumble recovery. Bruce had a career high 12 tackles with three sacks and Matt Sandgren tallied a career high 11 tackles. Brown finished the night with six tackles, three interceptions and one pass breakup. His three interceptions tie him for second in the OU record book in single game interceptions.
The OU offense was led by Luke Lundy with 58 yards rushing. Behr went 8-for-14 through the air for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Hilliger, Josh Stangby, and Hayes led OU with two receptions apiece.
Up next for the Braves (1-1) is a road trip to Lindsborg, Kan. to play Bethany College on Saturday, Sept. 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Notes: This is just the third time in program history that OU has defeated MVC. The last time OU defeated a ranked Missouri Valley team was on Oct. 6, 1979. The Vikings were ranked fourth in the NAIA when OU defeated MVC 3-2 in Marshall, Mo. OU defeated the no. 1 winningest program in the NAIA. Missouri Valley leads the NAIA with 584 victories. OU is third all-time with 535. The victory gives OU its 66th victory in home openers and breaks OU’s two game losing streak. This victory is OU’s first in a home opener over a ranked opponent.