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The Antelope

The Antelope

Lopers hold off Lions late

photo of the UNK football team

JD Rader
Sports Reporter

Up 33-27 with 9:12 left in the fourth quarter, UNK made a big stop on fourth down to stop Missouri Southern State from scoring the go-ahead touchdown and then put together a fantastic drive of their own to win 39-27.

“A lot of the games last year, we were up at half and lost,” said redshirt senior Rakid Hill. “We didn’t lose this one.”

The Lopers went into Joplin, Missouri, scored on the opening drive, and never trailed after that. Redshirt-Senior quarterback Alexis McGinnis (Crete) connected with Redshirt-Sophomore wide receiver Zach Blaschko (Kearney) from eight yards out to put UNK on the board first.

After a scoreless rest of the first quarter, it was the Lopers big in the second. UNK scored on all four of their possessions and accumulated 273 yards of offense. With two missed PATs from Sophomore Junior Gonzales (Corning, Calif.), the Lopers went into the half up 33-6.

However, as dominating as the second quarter was for the Lopers, it was all Lions in the third quarter. Former Georgia and Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park came out strong in the third quarter. 

The South Carolina native threw two touchdowns in the third quarter, both over 20 yards.

Park is part of a Missouri Southern State program undergoing a massive change. In addition to a new head coach, MSSU announced a 64-player signing class for this season. A good portion of these incoming players are JUCO or Div. 1 transfers. Last year the Lions went just 1-10.

He added to his stats two minutes into the fourth quarter when he threw a 93-yard TD pass to wide receiver Dwayne Lawson, making the score 33-27.

This is as close as the Lions would get, thanks to the Lopers defense stepping up. It was on MSSU’s next possession that they made the critical fourth-down stop.

After getting the ball back on their 32-yard line, UNK put together their best drive of the second half. Relying heavily on the run game of Redshirt-Senior Darrius Webb (Allentown, Penn.), the Loper offense drove 68-yards in 14 plays over six minutes and 38 seconds. The drive was capped off by a two-yard run from McGinnis.

The Lopers realized the growth they showed as a program to be able to finish a game like this on top.

“At the end of the day, when you win on the road, no matter how that’s a good day,” said Assistant Coach Shayne Shade. “It’s tough to win on the road. If you go back three years ago, it would have been a different story, but having a mature team, it was a different story. They were able to overcome it.”

The Lopers will have to play tough and smart again this week as they take on the University of Central Oklahoma in their home opener Thursday at 7 p.m.

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