(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo.) Central Oklahoma took every shot it could muster against Missouri Western's perfect record.
But, the leading rusher in Division II delivered when it mattered most.
Michael Hill's touchdown run on 4th-and-one late in the final quarter vaulted the Griffons to a 45-23 win over Central Oklahoma Saturday night.
The Griffons (5-0, 4-0) held a 28-0 advantage in the scond half, but the Bronchos (1-4,1-4) came to within eight before Hill's scoring scamper.
Missouri Western has now matched the best start under head coach Jerry Partridge. The team also began 2009 with five straight wins.
Both offenses got off to a sluggish start tonight as each committed a turnover on back-to-back plays, haulting their initial drives.
Then, Tyron Crockom opened things when he took a reverse 22 yards to the end zone, putting the Griffons on the board with a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Early in the second, quarterback Travis Partridge rolled out and found a diving Reggie Jordan for the team's second score and a 14-0 lead.
After another defensive stifle, fueled by another David Bass sack on UCO quarterback Adrian Nelson, Partridge got in on the scoring mix. He took a 17-yard keeper to the corner for his second score and a 21-0 lead.
The Griffon defense kept UCO away from their end zone on their final two drives of the first half.
Missouri Western padded their lead at the outset of the third when Partridge kept another snap and took it 45 yards, giving his team a 28-0 advantage. He finished 21-for-33 for 224 yards and a score. He also ran for 50 yards and another pair of touchdowns.
Midway through the third, UCO finally reached the scoreboard as Joshua Birmingham took it in from six yards out.
In the fourth, the Bronchos continued to chip away. After a 45-yard field goal from Taylor Anderson gave the Griffons a 31-7 lead, Birmingham scored again, this time from four yards out.
Marquis Walters followed suit, hauling an 8-yard pass from Nelson for a score, bringing the score to 31-23.
With just over a minute left, the UCO defense forced Missouri Western into a 4th-and-one situation at the Bronchos' 30-yard-line. Hill found a seam and bolted for the score, putting the Griffons back up 38-23.
UCO had time for one more attempt at a score, but Michael Jordan intercepted Nelson and returned it 42 yards for a 45-23 advantage.
Hill finished with 143 yards and a score on 22 carries.
Missouri Western is back on the road next Saturday to face Northeastern State.