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The Antelope

The Antelope

Fort Hays spoils UNK’s undefeated season in comeback

YEJIN KANG / ANTELOPE STAFF The Lopers warm up for the second half during a game earlier this season.

The magical run for the UNK football team finally came to an end Saturday. The Lopers’ final minute winning magic came back to haunt them as their 21-point halftime lead evaporated as quickly as their undefeated season. Fort Hays State running back Keylan Chapman’s one-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter helped the Tigers shock the Lopers 42-35. 

Fort Hays continued its eight-game winning streak against the Lopers dating back to UNK’s first MIAA season in 2012. The last three matchups have been decided by seven or less points. Lopers lead the all-time series 34-32-1.

The Lopers controlled the first half. In only four plays, quarterback T.J. Davis found receiver Kylan Herrera diving in the endzone to score the first points of the night. UNK went on to add 14 more points, while the defense allowed none to make it 21-0.

“I thought our offense did a good job controlling the ball and keeping their defense off the field,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “It was a good half of football we put together.”

The half ended controversially as Fort Hays quarterback Chance Fuller hit tight end Hunter Budke on a 27-yard pass attempt. Budke stretched his arm out over the pylon but was ruled out at the Lopers one-yard line with no time left. The official ruling was that Budke’s elbow hit the one-yard line before he smacked the pylon. The crowd, coaching staff and players let the officials know their emotions as boos, yelling and body language filled the stadium. 

Fort Hays received the ball to start the second half. It took a little over five minutes as Fuller hit receiver Alex Schremmer for a 17-yard passing touchdown for their first points of the night. Fort Hays would end the third quarter scoring 21 points to trail UNK 35-21.

“Their quarterback got going, who is an incredible player,” Lynn said. “We answered back with back-to-back scores to put up 14 points and then we couldn’t get off the field defensively.”

The game was changed when Chapman bounced to the outside from one yard out to tie the game at 35. The next possession, the Tigers defense would force the Lopers to punt.

It only took six plays for Fort Hays to gain their first lead of the night when Chapman again ran in for a one-yard touchdown to send the crowd at Lewis Field wild. The Lopers would get one more chance. Davis scrambled and tossed up a pass that was picked off on a diving catch by cornerback Devin White as Fort Hays would win this game 42-35 completing the second-half comeback.

“Some of that was we had a couple blown coverages, missed some tackles and felt momentum shift,” Lynn said. “We couldn’t get it back.”

UNK finished the game with a combined 476 total yards. The Lopers rushing attack finished with 274 yards. Running back Montrez Jackson had a career-high 102 yards on nine carries. Davis had 96 yards and two touchdowns. In the air, Davis went 12 of 15 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Receiver Cody Nelson had 48 yards on two catches while Herrerra had 45. 

The defense was led by cornerback Darius Swanson who finished with 11 tackles, while safety Blake Bubak had eight. Finally, linebacker Amir Abdullah recorded five tackles.

“We have a good football team and another great thing about this group is they care,” Lynn said. “There is not a bunch of yelling and screaming. I think they’re harder on themselves than what I am on then. We get back to work and have a great week of practice and get ready for Missouri Western.”

The now newly ranked No. 23 Lopers dropped to 4-1 on the year. UNK is home this Saturday with a date with the Missouri Western Griffons for homecoming. The Griffons are currently 2-3 on the season and were dominated by Northwest Missouri State last weekend 30-7.  Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in Kearney.

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