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The Antelope

UNK Shocks No.7 Bearcats at home

Darius Webb running from Northwest defenders Photo by Jiyoon Kim


Belief is a powerful thing that can lead to accomplishing goals you thought were impossible. The UNK football team found this out first hand in a 24-17 victory over Northwest Missouri State Oct.19.

“They were a very sound team that didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Senior linebacker Sal Silvio said. “We talk about winning the turnover margin every week and today we got to do that.”

This is arguably the biggest win in the Josh Lynn era and for Loper football in the past decade. This is the first time UNK has knocked off the Bearcats since 1990 and the first time in program history they knocked off a top 10 team in the country.

Things started great for the Lopers from the start.

On third and eight from their 38 NWMS QB, Braden Wright was picked off by senior Zack Sullivan on the left side.

The Lopers made sure to capitalize on the mistake, scoring on the sixth play of the drive with a 12-yard pass from TJ Davis to Darrius Webb.

After the turnover, the Bearcats settled down on the defensive side of the ball. They stopped the Loper rushing attack and put them in a situation where they had to punt.

The kick was by Kendall Raschein and went 37 yards but was muffed by returner Braden Drey. A swarm of UNK players fought for the ball and Trey Lansman came up with it.

With the ball on the Northwest side of the field for the second time, the Lopers looked to go up by two scores.

Late in the drive on the goal line, Darrius Webb lost two yards on third down. UNK was fortunate to be on the receiving end of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by NWMS.

After gaining no yards on the first play, the Lopers set up for second and two. Instead of giving it to the backs UNK kept it in QB Davis’s hands who rushed into the endzone from two yards out.

With 2:30 in the first quarter, the Lopers were out to a commanding 14-0 lead.

Neither team added any points in the second, so at halftime, UNK clung to a 14-point lead.

Coach Lynn stressed the Loper’s good preparation was a reason they matched up so well with the Bearcats throughout the game.

“You know what you are going to get from them and that’s what marks them as a great team,” UNK coach Josh Lynn said. “They do what they do, and they do it very well. Sometimes when you know it’s coming you can scheme more and watch a little more film to prepare.”

With the start of the second half, UNK had only one thing on their mind. Hold on to the lead they built for thirty more minutes of play.

The Lopers started well by eating up six minutes and 48 seconds on their first drive. The result of the long possession was a one-yard touchdown run by Darrius Webb to put UNK up by three scores at 21-0.

A relatively quiet NWMS offense finally woke up on their first possession of the third quarter.

It started with a big ten-yard run by Justin Rankin and ended with a 13-yard rush by Branden Wright. After the extra point by Parker Sampson it was a two-possession game at 21-7.

The Bearcats struck again right at the end of the third. With the clock reading zeros, Wright connected with Imoni Donadelle down the right side for 38-yards and the score.

With only one quarter left to go, it was now a manageable 21-14 deficit for NWMS.

The Lopers responded to the adversity with a huge drive of their own.

On 1st and 10 on the Bearcats 41-yard line, TJ Davis broke free for arguably the biggest run of the game.

He juked and spun his way for 20-yards down to the NWMS 21-yard line.

This later set up Junior Gonzales for a 29-yard field goal. His kick was straight through the uprights and once again UNK lead by ten 24-14.

In unfamiliar territory, the Bearcats fought back again the best they could. They drove the ball down into Loper territory but were stopped around the 20.

Sampson put a field goal through from 36-yards out. It was a one-touchdown game 24-17.

This set up a position at the end of the game, where UNK had to stop NWMS one more time to win the game.

On 3rd and 15 from the Bearcat 43-yard line, Wright was sacked in the pocket and fumbled. Silvio came up with the loose ball.

UNK’s offense bled the clock all the way down to one second in the game. The Bearcats last-ditch effort to tie was sniffed out and the celebration in Kearney began.

“It’s pretty awesome, all the hard work we put in for four or five years feels like it paid off. At the same time, it’s another win, and we must look forward to next week and go 1-0 there,” Silvio said.

It doesn’t get any easier for UNK, as they travel to Hays, Kansas next week to play Fort Hays State (5-2) who is coming off a 42-41 win over No.19 Pittsburg State. Game time is set for 2 p.m. on Oct. 26.

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