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The Antelope

The Antelope

Lopers dominate Northeastern State on senior day

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF The Lopers try to block an extra point in their win against Northeastern State. It was the only touchdown the Lopers gave up in the game.

The UNK football team played its regular season finale by dominating the Northeastern State Riverhawks 56-10, Saturday wrapping up a regular season at 9-2. The program features 16 seniors and for those seniors hanging up the uniform isn’t an option just yet as UNK qualified for the 2021 NCAA Division II playoffs.

The Lopers defense hit the gridiron first and forced Northeastern State to punt on a three and out. The Lopers, with a knack for trick plays, started off their first offensive drive with a flea flicker as Dayton Sealey tossed the ball back to T.J. Davis who found Cody Nelson streaking down field for a 65-yard passing touchdown. The tricks weren’t over just yet as a fake point-after attempt was tossed to Travis Holcomb to make it 8-0.

“We wanted to have fun,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “Try to get up and establish a lead earlier.”

Holcomb, a senior outside linebacker, had a decision to make last year to come back and play football with the extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. 

Another big pass play from Davis to Dayton Sealey for 61 yards helped the Lopers secure an early 14-0 lead. Davis came into this game one touchdown shy of the school record 38 rushing touchdowns. Davis would add two rushing touchdowns to break the school record with 39. UNK would go into the half leading 42-0. 

The Lopers only tacked on 14 points in the second half as Miko Meassner punched in a one-yard rushing touchdown and Shaun Ross found an open gap on the outside for a 12-yard rushing touchdown. The Lopers would win the season finale 56-10.

“So, so proud. Great group of kids and we needed them to answer the bell one more time,” Lynn said. “Sometimes these games are tough to get up for but our guys have responded all year long.”

The Lopers finished with 557 total yards of offense. The rushing attack finished with 323 yards. Eight different Lopers finished in double digits. Leading the rushing attack was Meassner who had 61 yards and one touchdown. Next, Ross had 55 yards while Joe Stiffend ended with 52.

The Lopers passing attack ended the day with 234 yards. Three different quarterbacks threw the ball for UNK and Davis led the way with 150 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Green went 6-6 for 75 yards while Ross threw for nine. Nelson led the receiver core with 65 yards and Sealey had 61. 

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lopers were led by Sione Taufalele who had seven tackles while Zach Schlager and Holcomb had six. Finally Gabe Amegatcher and Will Lansman had three.

“I’ll credit this again to a great week of practice and preparation,” Lynn said. “Extremely proud of the effort and the way we came out today.”

For the 16 seniors, it was a game to remember to cap off a perfect 5-0 at home this season. The seniors were all honored before the game with each player’s family walking out with them onto the field. Non-seniors on the football team lined up on each side to cheer on their fellow teammates.

“Today was a big day for us,” Holcomb said. “I wanted to go out and leave Foster Field and be undefeated. So today I made sure everyone was locked in including myself and made sure we had a good day.”

Lynn earned 2021 MIAA Coach of the Year and Davis earned 2021 MIAA Offensive Player of the Year. 17 players earned All-MIAA honors.

The season is not over just yet for the team. The Lopers qualified for the playoffs for the first time in a decade as the No.6 in super region four. They will take on the third seed Western Colorado Saturday in Gunnison. Western Colorado is a former Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe and the two teams haven’t met since 2011.

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