Central Missouri quarterback Garrett Fugate connected with Kyle Echols on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 3:45 remaining to lift the Mules to a 18-17 win over Missouri Western in the season-opening game for both teams.
It's Western's first loss to UCM in their last five meetings.
The Griffons (0-1, 0-1 MIAA) trailed 9-7 at halftime, but jumped in front on a one-yard touchdown run by Raphael Spencer with 13:39 remaining in the game.
It was Western's first lead in the game since Skyler Windmiller hit Dee Tolliver with a 17-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Central Missouri battled back from its seven-point deficit in the first quarter with a steady dose of field goals. Billy Greco accounted for all of the Mules' first half points hitting three field goals before the break.
After Spencer gave the Griffs the lead in the fourth quarter, Greco and Western place kicker Tanner Pettet each drilled kicks through the uprights to run the score to 17-12 in favor of MWSU.
With less than six minutes to play, Central marched down the field in seven plays, and took the lead on Fugate's touchdown pass to Echols.
Missouri Western had two more drives with a chance to take the lead, but Windmiller threw one of his two interceptions with 3:30 remaining. The next drive was shut down after he was sacked twice for a total loss of 17 yards.
The Griffs were limited to just 37 rushing yards on 35 attempts in the season opener. Spencer, the MIAA's second-leading rusher in 2014, finished with only 30 yards on the ground in the loss.
Windmiller completed 21 passes on 38 attempts for 313 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked four times.
Missouri Western's next game is its home opener on September 12. The Griffs host Central Oklahoma.
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