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Run game takes flight against ‘Hawks

Darrius Webb, a junior running back, runs a play to the outside against Emporia State. In the game last Saturday against Northeastern State, Webb ran for 107 yards on 10 carries and also rushed for a touchdown against the RiverHawks.

Nine different Lopers recorded rushing attempts in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on Saturday as UNK (3-2) defeated the winless Northeastern State RiverHawks 49-7.

“We came out and took care of business and our assignments,” said senior defensive end, Tye Spies. “We played a good game overall.”

Northeastern came into the game having struggled in MIAA play thus far, as the RiverHawks had lost each of their contests by at least four touchdowns. The Lopers were coming off a loss to MIAA leader Pittsburg St. after suffering a heartbreaking 3-point loss the week prior to Emporia State.

“We were just going to come out and play them like any other team,” said Blake Bubak a sophomore safety. “We had been told all week that this was the game that was going to test us. This was going to be the game that would get us back on track.”

UNK didn’t give the RiverHawks much hope. On the second play of UNK’s first drive, Darrius Webb barreled into the end zone with a 20-yard rush to put the Lopers up 7-0. It was Webb’s seventh rushing touchdown this season.

The scoring didn’t stop there, Luke Quinn strolled into the endzone for a 9-yard score later in the first quarter to push the Loper lead to 14. After trading possessions with the RiverHawks three times, Alex McGinnis capped a seven-play, 54-yard drive with a 3-yard rushing score to give the Lopers a 21-0 lead.

The RiverHawks had their one shining moment when Craig Davis took the ensuing Loper kick off 94 yards to get Northeastern on the board and provide a glimmer of hope heading into halftime down only a couple of touchdowns.

UNK opened the third quarter with a back-breaking 10-play drive that accounted for 64 yards. That ended when Mr. Efficiency, David Goodwin (8.4 yards per carry on the season) corralled the pigskin and 20 yards later had his third rushing score of the season.

Down 21, the RiverHawks took over and had a promising 11-play drive end at the UNK 16-yard line after the Loper pass defense forced three consecutive incompletions from Northeastern quarterback Jake Pruitt. Overall, the RiverHawks gained just 190 yards and were sacked five times by the Loper defense. Tye Spies accounted for two of those, while returning third team all-MIAA defensive end Hinwa Allieu took two for himself.

“We were able to get pressure upfront and kept them from gaining any momentum,” Spies said. “A lot of the pressure was attained because of our coverage’s ability to lock-down their receivers.”

While there is no official stat that credits defensive backs with “coverage sacks.” It can subjectively be confirmed that Malik Webb, Famous Mckinnon, and Blake Bubak, among others, helped terminate the RiverHawks passing attack. 

The Lopers weren’t done on offense though, as Montrez Jackson capped off multiple 70-yard drives in the second half with short scores of 1 and 3 yards respectively. 

In a play that unfortunately summarized Northeastern football, the RiverHawks forced a fumble around the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter. When Northeastern St. was returning said fumble however, the Lopers returned the favor and forced a fumble themselves. Goodwin scooped up that ball and casually coasted 30 yards take the game to it’s final score of 49-7.

“It all starts up front with our experienced o-line,” said Alex Harms, a senior tight end. “Overall as an offense, we focused on getting back to playing Loper Football and getting our run game going.”

“When we open up our run game, that opens up things for McGinnis to make throws,” Harms added. “And that takes some weight off of his shoulders and makes him play more confidently.”

On the ground, the Lopers had quite the democracy, as nine Lopers had attempts in the game. Darrius Webb led the way with 107 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries. Dayton Sealy took his 11 attempts for 79 yards while Mr. Efficiency, David Goodwin added 72 yards and a score on 10 attempts. Luke Quinn and Garrett Meyer combined for 94 yards and a score on their 17 attempts.

The Lopers will be back home Oct. 6 when they face the Lindenwood Lions. The Lopers look to get to four wins on the season for the first time since becoming a member of the MIAA conference. Lindenwood is 2-3 on the season and recently suffered a close 24-27 loss against Pittsburg St.

The Lions won last year’s contest 35-31. UNK will look to change that this Saturday morning.

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