On a cold and windy Saturday afternoon 500 miles from Urbana, the Blue Knight football team paid dearly for too many mistakes in a tough 13-12 loss at Missouri S&T University. Urbana outgained the Miners 422-340, but three interceptions, two missed extra points and two missed field goals were enough to hand the victory to the home team in a clash between 1-loss teams in the GLVC.
The Miners raced out to an early 13-0 lead with a pair of touchdowns on their first two possessions. Urbana immediately answered on a D.J. Mendenhall 80-yard touchdown pass to Sanders Sius. After Marshall Newsome missed the extra point, Urbana trailed 13-6 with just under 5 minutes to play in the first quarter.
After the early touchdown flurry, the GLVC's second and third ranked defenses took control. Neither team could find a way to put points on the board. At the halftime horn, Newsome had a 35-yard field goal blocked as the Miners clung to a 13-6 lead.
The Blue Knights also saw three drives ended by interceptions. The first interception gave the Miners a short field and resulted in S&T's second touchdown of the first quarter. The second pick came in Miner territory early in the second quarter, and the third ended a promising 12-play drive to the Miner 22-yard line. Mendenhall's three picks tied his career-high, but Urbana still had a chance late in the game.
With the home team driving late into Urbana territory, Blue Knight defensive lineman Rodney Huston caused a Miner fumble recovered by freshman safety Brian Ridley. Mendenhall's offense had six minutes to drive the ball 92 yards for the game-tying score. Thirteen plays later, Mendenhall found Nate Wilburn-Ogletree on the sideline in the end zone for a 5-yard score. Unfortunately, the extra point missed and Urbana found itself still trailing by one with 2:04 to play.
After an unsuccessful onside kick, the Blue Knight defense forced a quick three-and-out. Mendenhall and the Blue Knights had the ball at their own 19-yard line with 1:41 left on the clock. For the second straight drive, the offense came through with their backs against the wall. Eleven plays and 50 yards later, Urbana found itself at the Miner 31-yard line with seven ticks left on the clock. Urbana opted to try the 48-yard field goal for the win. Newsome had plenty of distance on the kick, but it sailed just right of the upright as S&T collectively breathed a sigh of relief.
Despite the conditions and three untimely picks, Mendenhall notched a new career high in passing yards on a school record 58 pass attempts. The junior finished with 373 yards through the air, including 139 to Sius, who had a team-high 8 catches. Joe Webb added 7 catches for 103 yards. It's the fifth time in seven games Webb has eclipsed 100-yards receiving.
After the Miners' two early touchdowns, the Urbana defense turned in an impressive performance. For the first time this season, S&T was held below 27 points. Senior linebacker Drew Underwood led the way with 11 tackles. Fellow senior Bruce Parker made 5 stops, including two sacks and a forced fumble. Dan Goodrum chipped in 9 tackles, and Roy Harvison had 7 stops and a forced fumble.
The loss ends Urbana's chances at a GLVC Championship. The Blue Knights fall to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Missouri S&T bounced back from a 42-7 loss at Urbana last season to secure the second place spot in the GLVC. The Miners sit at 8-1 overall and 6-1 in GLVC play. S&T's 8 wins are the most since the 1983 season.
Next Saturday, Urbana returns home to host William Jewell College. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m.