Sep. 19—WEATHERFORD — In a highly anticipated clash, the East Central University Tigers squared off against the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Bulldogs, with the Tigers emerging victorious 24-13 in a hard-fought battle Saturday night at Milam Stadium.
The win not only marked the first victory of the season for ECU (1-2) but also the first win for interim head coach John Litrenta. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-3 on the year.
"I am proud of this team and staff for the job they did," Litrenta said. "Each week, we are continuing to get better. We are learning from previous mistakes, which is a huge key. The team battled even when it did not look pretty. We have to learn to play better complementary football, but I am very excited to get back home this week against another Oklahoma opponent for homecoming."
The visiting Tigers came into the game with a point to prove.
The first half of the game proved to be a defensive battle, with both teams struggling to break through. ECU had an early opportunity but missed a field goal on their opening possession. However, their fortunes changed when they capitalized on a crucial early first-quarter fumble by the Bulldogs.
Kicker Tommy Yousey converted a 32-yard field goal at the 9:43 mark of the first period, accounting for the only points scored in the half and ECU carried a slim 3-0 lead into halftime.
Coming out of the locker rooms, ECU wasted no time in the third quarter as Miles Davis, in a spectacular display of skill and speed, broke free for a 36-yard rushing touchdown at the 12:43 mark, extending the Tigers' lead to 10-0 after the PAT by Yousey.
But SWOSU fought back, responding with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard run from Ethane Hyche with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Southwestern recovered an ECU fumble at the Tigers' 2-yard line that set up a Hyche 1-yard TD run to pave the way for the Bulldogs to come up with 13 unanswered points. ECU trailed 13-10 at the 2:39 mark of the third period.
But the fourth quarter belonged to the Tigers as they showed tremendous resilience, scoring two pivotal touchdowns to shift the momentum and the lead back to ECU.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dior Scott had a crucial 50-yard return to set ECU up at the SWOSU 40. Quarterback Traair Edwards capped off the drive, hitting Scott with a 7-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers back on top 17-13 with 14:10 remaining.
To seal the victory, ECU added another score with just 2:08 left in the contest when Miles Davis came in clutch once more, rushing for a 17-yard touchdown to settle the game 24-13 in favor of the Tigers. That capped off an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive. Davis finished with 12 carries for 94 yards.
ECU finished with 333 yards of total offense, while SWOSU was limited to 175 yards by a tough Tiger defense. The Bulldogs managed just 42 yards in the fourth period.
Dior Scott topped the team in receiving, hauling in 10 catches for 108 yards in addition to 66 return yards on special teams. It was his first game with more than 100 yards this season. Traair completed an efficient 15-of-21 passes for 183 yards with the TD to Scott and one interception.
Devon Roush led the defense with 10 tackles and a pass breakup, while Darian Williams and Yemi Oyesanya added seven tackles each. Williams also had a fumble recovery. Jimmy Pitts notched his second interception of the year.
ECU will return home and prepare to host Oklahoma Baptist University on Homecoming Night at Norris Field Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Editor's Note: Ada News Sports Editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.