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The Antelope

Late score completes third comeback win for UNK

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF Xavier Delk signals for a first down after a catch during a previous game.

How many times are the Lopers going to come back from behind to win games? That answer is now three straight weeks. The No. 16 UNK football team was on the road last Saturday to face off against an MIAA foe, the Central Missouri Mules. For the second straight week, a late touchdown by quarterback T.J. Davis in the final minute would give UNK a 31-28 victory over Central Missouri. 

UNK finally snapped a seven-game losing streak to Central Missouri dating back to 2013, where the Mules averaged 44 points against the Lopers in those games. Central Missouri played a solid three quarters to take a 21-16 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

“Give Central Missouri credit, they came out with stuff we weren’t ready for,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “We definitely didn’t play our best football.”

The comeback began in the fourth quarter when Davis found wide-open receiver Kylan Herrera in the endzone to help give UNK its first lead of the night. Davis tossed receiver Michael Koch another wide-open pass in the endzone for the two-point conversion to make it 24-21. A little over a minute later, Central Missouri quarterback Logan Twehouse found receiver Cameron Saunders with no one around him on a 26-yard pass to regain the lead 28-24.

“Our whole deal was to relax and to play our football,” Lynn said. “We needed to hit our shots when we needed to.”

The UNK offense got the ball back with 3:02 left in the fourth quarter after forcing a Mules three and out. The Lopers started on their own 31-yard line. The UNK offense moved the ball well until Central Missouri forced UNK into a 4th and 2 situation at the Mules’ 42-yard line. Davis would roll to his right and gain five yards to keep the drive going. 

A few plays later, Davis took a shot at the end zone and a defensive pass interference call on Central Missouri put the Lopers on the Mules’ two-yard line. Davis would punch in a two-yard run to give UNK a 31-28 lead with 22 seconds left.

The Lopers’ offense racked up 450 total yards. The passing game was a key highlight in the victory as Davis went 13-20 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Koch was the top receiver as he finished with three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Herrera finished with two catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. 

“We made halftime adjustments,” Lynn said. “The great thing about our kids is that they are resilient, they always keep coming at ya.”

Defensively the Lopers were led by safety Darius Swanson who had 11 tackles with nine solo and two assisted. Linebackers Zach Schlager and Jacey Nutter both had five and safety Blake Bubak finished his night with five. The defense only allowed seven points in the second half. The special teams unit also had a blocked field goal by running back Montrez Jackson.

“Look at their second-half performance,” Lynn said. “It really limited them and gave us more offense and I was extremely happy with the second half football.”

The newly ranked No. 12 Lopers now improve to 4-0 and sit atop the MIAA standings. UNK has three come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter. One against Pittsburg State and two coming in the final minute against Washburn and Central Missouri.

 The Lopers hit the road for a Saturday night contest with the Fort Hays State Tigers. Fort Hays is currently 2-2 on the season and is on a two-game winning streak. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Hays, Kansas.

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