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The Antelope

Lopers bounce back against Missouri Western after first loss

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF Gabriel Amegatcher dives for the loose ball after a muffed punt by the Griffons.

After their first loss, No. 22 UNK bounced back and achieved a well-deserved 35-14 homecoming victory over Missouri Western State. It was the Lopers’ second straight win against the Griffons, after defeating them 49-21 in 2019.

While the Lopers finished the game with 35 points, the first half was a hard-fought, defensive battle. The Griffons only had 60 yards of offense and UNK went into the locker room with just a 7-0 lead.

The Lopers gained major momentum early in the third quarter when safety Blake Bubak forced a fumble on a Missouri Western punt return. 

“That was huge,” said UNK senior safety Blake Bubak. “I was just taking a good angle and I saw him jump in the air, tried to hit him and the next thing I know the ball popped out and blue jerseys got it. That was big for us.”

The UNK offense pounced, scoring a touchdown in just four plays to make it 14-0. They continued to fire on all cylinders, with the passing game scorching the Missouri Western defense. Quarterback T.J. Davis ended with four total touchdowns, three of them through the air and one on the ground.

After the eye-opening loss to Fort Hays, the team wanted to make sure that they got back on the right track against the Griffons.

“After last week, the biggest thing the coaches preached and the biggest thing that we preached as a unit was how we were going to react from that game, from that second half last week,” Bubak said. “We kind of used that as fuel throughout the week.”

Teams react in different ways to heartbreaking defeats, but the Lopers weren’t going to let a single loss define them.

“The biggest thing was we could either let that game catapult us in a positive or negative direction,” Bubak said. “The coaches put us in positions all week to practice. We knew they were going to throw everything at us so that we were in the right spots and I think we used last week to catapult us in the right direction.”

The Lopers know that preparation is key to a successful season in the MIAA conference. 

“We know that if we come in and we prepare like we wanna win, then we’ll put ourselves in winning situations,” said UNK quarterback T.J. Davis. “That’s what coach preaches to us every day. They tell us the MIAA is one of the hardest divisions and we know that. If we don’t bring our A-game then we know we’ll get beat at any point, just like last week.”

UNK finished the game with 359 yards of total offense, while the defense held the Griffons to just 265. Safety Darius Swanson led the team with eight tackles and an interception.

“We don’t have to coach effort, we don’t have to coach being on time, we don’t have to coach these young men to do the small things because they’re already doing it,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “That makes it really fun for a coach.”

The win moved the Lopers to 5-1 on the season, while the Griffons fell to 2-4. UNK’s next matchup will be on the road against Emporia State on Oct. 16. 

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KEVIN BURD, Sports Edior
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