The University of Central Arkansas Bears began their season with a 56-13 victory Thursday, Sept. 1 over the Houston Baptist Huskies at Estes Stadium.
The Bears put up a strong offensive performance racking up 554 yards of total offense and holding it’s opponents to just 242 yards.
Central Arkansas also showed its dominance on both defense and special teams.
Eight different players were able to score touchdowns with 21 points coming in just the first quarter.
The Bears opened the night with a 54-yard drive down the field ending in a three-yard pass from junior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand, and connecting to senior wide receiver Desmond Smith. Sophomore kicker Matt Cummings finished the drive with his first of eight PAT’s, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Bears scored again on a 14-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kelton Warren, which was followed by another touchdown from Hildebrand with a one-yard touchdown making the score 21-0 to close out the first quarter.
HBU continued to be held down without a point by the Bears’ defense, along with a block on a 54-yard field goal attempt by junior outside linebacker George Odum was returned 46-yards for a touchdown by Senior defensive back Tyler Williams.
Hidlebrand got on the board once more with a 37-yard touchdown connection to junior wide receiver Brandon Cox.
“We’ve watched film and tried to stay focused on what we’re trying to accomplish, one game at a time,” Hildebrand said.
The defense followed behind him with a score on a forced fumble, which was dropped by junior defensive end Cardell Best, that was returned two yards by senior defensive back Devin Spurlock for another score before halftime.
The Huskies finally got their first score on a field goal from HBU’s sophomore Alex Chadwick making the score 42-3.
UCA came back in the second half, scoring again on yet another rushing touchdown, this time coming from senior running back Antwon Wells with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
The Huskies scored another field goal from 32 yards out. UCA scored again with a 13-yard run from redshirt freshman running back Keshawn Ledet with 1:45 remaining.
“We have been working on changing the mindset of the team and we have been driven more [toward]finishing and having relentless effort. We believe we have the athletes to compete with the best we just need to have the same mindset,” Smith said.
Central Arkansas committed one of their two turnovers on a fumble, which was eventually turned into seven points from HBU quarterback Max Staver from 31 yards out midway through the fourth quarter that set the final score at 56-13.
Three different Bears got a sack, while redshirt freshman linebacker Roy Sutton led the tackle chart with seven stops for the evening. Spurlock finished the game with five tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Bears next game is against Samford University Sept. 10 at Estes Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
all photos by Paden Moore