WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- The Central Missouri Mules overcame a slow start to out-run Nebraska-Kearney 45-28 on Family Weekend at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field. The Mules trailed 14-7 at halftime, but outscored UNK 38-14 in the second half.

The Lopers (0-4, 0-4 MIAA) struck first on their opening drive of the game. Romero Cotton broke free from the UCM defense for a 49-yard touchdown run to give UNK a 7-0 lead. The Mules (2-2, 2-2 MIAA) tied the game late in the first quarter when Hayden Hawk found Cullen Rosine for a 13-yard scoring strike. Hawk had hit Rosine for a 22-yard gain on the previous play to convert a third and 12.

The game stayed tied through most of the second quarter with neither team able to muster much offensively. UCM punted near the end of the half and downed the ball at the Loper four. UNK drove 96 yards in seven plays, capped by a Bronson Marsh to Tityus Mitchell 29-yard strike just before the half to give the Lopers a 14-7 halftime edge.

The Mules scored on their opening possession of the second half, a 37-yard Will Mondragon field goal to pull within 14-10. The defense forced another punt on the ensuing possession and the Mules took over at their own 37.

Hawk found Sean Gorman on first down for a 21-yard gain into Loper territory and the Mules were in business. LaVance Taylor scored his first of three touchdowns of the half with a 13-yard run to give UCM a 17-14 lead.

Following another UNK punt, the Mules struck fast to take a 24-14 lead. On first and 10 from near midfield, Hawk hit a wide open Kyle Echols for a 51-yard scoring strike. The Mules made it 31-14 early in the fourth on another Taylor touchdown run, this one from five yards out.

Nebraska-Kearney pulled back to within 10 on a Marsh to Allen Sampson 24-yard touchdown to make it 31-21 with just over 11:00 left in the game. UCM wasted no time in responding though. On the first play of the ensuing drive Hawk hit Echols for an 82-yard score and it was 38-21 UCM.

The Mules forced another UNK punt, but the Lopers intercepted Hawk on the ensuing possession and turned that into a Marsh to Cougar Williams 26-yard touchdown and it was a 10-point game again at 38-28.

Taylor put the finishing touches on the game on the second play of the next drive, a 73-yard scamper, to give the Mules the 45-28 lead.

Taylor finished the day with 157 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. Hawk was 18-of-29 for 347 yards and three scores and Echols hauled in three passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The Mules totaled 499 yards in offense, 152 on the ground and 347 through the air.

Defensively, UCM allowed 422 yards of offense to UNK, including 253 in the air and 169 on the ground. The Mules did register 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. Alex Perlin led the way with 11 total tackles and Connor Smith had 10.

Cotton had 105 yards rushing for the Lopers on 18 carries. Marsh was 25-of-44 for 253 yards with three touchdowns. Sampson had nine catches for 79 yards and a score.

Tyke Kozeal led the Loper defense with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. UNK had nine tackles for loss as a unit and five sacks.

The Mules look to get above .500 for the first time this season when they travel to Missouri Southern next Saturday, Oct. 4. Kickoff at Fred G. Hughes Stadium in Joplin is set for 2 p.m.

(Courtesy of UCM Athletics)