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The Antelope

Lopers defend UNK in first home conference win

Photo by Ryan Range UNK and Chadron battled it out after not meeting for a contest since the 2011 season. In the past, the match-ups between the teams have been close.

The Loper football team secured their 50th win against Chadron State with over 2,500 people in attendance on Saturday. The UNK squad successfully defended their home turf for the first time this season in a 45-35 victory. 

Quarterback TJ Davis performed once again this week, leading off with a 72 yard touchdown in the first quarter. Davis also ran for two more touchdowns in the game and helped the offense pull out 541 rushing yards to hold off Chadron State. Garrett Meyer followed Davis’s touchdown in the first quarter shortly after, as he ran for a 68 yards to secure the lead early on in the game. 

The run game was crucial for the Lopers’ success.

“Our power for the offense is our run game,” said Xavier Jackson, a redshirt junior and slot for UNK. “As long as we keep that going, I don’t think anyone can stop us to be honest.” 

The 541 rushing yards came from only 55 carries with seven different Lopers carrying the ball. Running for over 200 yards in the first half alone, this number is the fifth-highest in school history. 

The offense showed up early in the first quarter with the defense trailing close behind. The defensive game followed the Lopers’ first touchdown when Blake Schroeder sacked the Chadron State quarterback in a crucial third down. 

“The sack felt really good,” said Blake Schroeder, a redshirt senior and defensive end for the Lopers. “I knew the down was going to be a passing down so I got activated. I knew what they were going to do on third down and it worked out for me.”

This was the first of five sacks on the Eagles’ quarterback Dalton Holst, with the last coming in the fourth quarter to cause a fumble recovery by the Lopers that secured the win. The Loper defense forced the Eagles to punt four times, with Carson Pilkington on the kick coverage team recording four tackles. 

While always maintaining the lead, the Lopers slowed down in the second half as the Eagles made adjustments to get back in the game. The Eagles had back-to-back touchdown drives at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, making it only a 10 point game. This point spread is not unheard of in the history of UNK and Chadron matchups, as 13 of the 19 games since 1990 have been decided by 10 points or less. 

“They did some good halftimes adjustments on us, and we had a lot of third downs that we needed to get off on,” Schroeder said. “That just gave them an opportunity to keep going down the field on us. I’m proud of our effort regardless. We played tough all game, and we are just glad to have a win”.

The Lopers take on South Dakota School of Mines (2-2) next Saturday. 

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