MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

November 10, 2012

Bacone aims for historical outcome

— When it comes to National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics playoffs, the Bacone Warriors are on the outside looking in – for now.

They certainly would like to be in the party, but a tough task awaits as they need a win in the 2 p.m. game against McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.

Currently, the Warriors are No. 23 in the NAIA rankings. A win against the Division II school could put them in the Top 20 and earn an at-large berth. Bacone lost 41-6 to the War Hawks in Muskogee in Sept. 4, 2010.

Certainly, it’s quite a challenge, but senior defensive end Kiandre Ratliff and the Warriors are not backing down from it.

“The last time we played them, we wanted to see if we could hang with a Division II team,” the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder said. “More is at stake this time. We want to win, go to the playoffs and prove that we’re a better team than we were two years ago.”

The Warriors are 7-2 for the season while McMurry is 6-3.

Trevor Rubly was the defensive coordinator when the two teams met that first time. Now, in his second season as head coach, he sees his squad on the verge of school history.

“This is exciting for our players and coaches,” he said. “We talked about knocking down barriers this season. We won all of our home games and that’s never been done before. We’ve also talked about going to the playoffs.

“A lot of programs across the country are not playing for anything right now. We are and that’s lit a fire under us.”

Still, Bacone’s task is daunting as quarterback Jake Mullin completed 28 of 35 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns in the 2010 game. He has completed 293 of 425 passes (68.9 percent) for 2,728 yards and 21 TDs this season.

Ratliff, who has 22 tackles this season, said he and his teammates are not going to be intimidated by Mullin and the War Hawks.

“Everybody knows how much this game means to the program,” the Tulsa native said. “We know what we need to do to come out on top. McMurry doesn’t know what’s coming.”

Tyler Thomas leads the Warriors’ running attack with 704 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, while quarterback Kyle Kuban has completed 88 of 165 passes (53.3 percent) for 1,129 yards and nine TDs.

No one in the Bacone program is more enthusiastic about the game than Rubly.

“All of us are excited about the opportunity,” he said.

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