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The Antelope

Loper football electric in first win during season opener


It was a year in the making for the Lopers to return to a normal fall football schedule. The home opener saw UNK take care of business by shutting out the Missouri Southern State Lions 38-0 on Sept. 2 in dominant fashion. 

Mother Nature was not so kind to both teams. The Lopers and Lions were forced to head into the locker room twice as severe weather menaced the area. Kickoff was originally set for 7 p.m. but the game started after 2 ½  hours. 

“It’s hard for these guys to get warmed up and be ready for a game and come in here and wait another two hours to play a football game,” said coach Josh Lynn. “It was kind of a rollercoaster and I thought we handled it as well as we possibly could.”

It was a quiet first half for both teams. The first quarter the Lopers only had one possession that resulted in a goal line stand for the Lions. Missouri Southern’s total time of possession for the game was 25:23 with 9:22 coming in the first quarter. 

UNK’s first possession to start the second quarter resulted in a 22-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback T.J. Davis. Davis would later punch in his second touchdown to give the Lopers a 14-0 lead, score going into halftime. 

“I thought we started as well as we possibly could,” Lynn said. “We got a little stagnant in the second quarter. You gotta get a feel for the game, but it’s hard when you only touch the ball one time in the first quarter.”

The Lopers only saw three points get tacked on the board by kicker Junior Gonzales in the third quarter. UNK would eventually overpower the tired defensive line for the Lions and would add 21 more points in the fourth quarter to eventually defeat Missouri Southern 38-0.

The Lopers ended up with 539 total yards of offense. Backup quarterback Jacob Green saw action in the fourth quarter where he connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Michael Koch. Davis and Green both combined for 189 passing yards. Davis went 8-12 for 160 yards, while Green was 1-2 for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. 

The run game was critical for the Lopers offense as they finished with 350 rushing yards. Davis led the way with 139 yards and three touchdowns. Other Lopers to touch the ball were Montrez Jackson with 58 yards and one touchdown and freshman JerQon Connors had a 47-yard rushing attempt.

Davis’ playing style has much influence on how successful the Lopers offense can be.

“I think that’s credited to T.J. developing as a total QB,”  Lynn said. “That’s credited to him and the hard work in and proving he’s not one dimensional but really a multi-threat quarterback.”

While the offense had a stellar performance, the Loper defense held the Lions offense to just 184 total yards. Missouri Southern quarterback Dawson Herl only threw for 60 yards while running back Nathan Glades led the rushing attack with 63 yards.

“They were a physical line and we were just flying too fast for the football in the first few possessions which caused us to miss a couple tackles,” said UNK defensive lineman Shane Henderson. “Those fourth down stops are huge.”

The Lopers hit the road to take on the Pittsburg State Gorillas on Sept. 11. The Gorillas upset preseason ranked No. 2 Central Missouri 35-16 on Sept. 2. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Pittsburg, Kansas.

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