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Lopers magical season comes to an end in playoffs

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF The Lopers down a punt inside the 5-yard line in a previous game against Northeastern State.

The UNK football team’s magic season comes to an end after a hot Angelo State team defeated the Lopers 20-7. Angelo State has won eight games in a row. 

For the second time in school history, the Lopers made it to the second round of the Division II playoffs. It’s also the third time UNK has recorded double-digit wins in school history. This team also featured 16 seniors, six were a part of the program during the 1-10 campaign in 2016 before Josh Lynn took over in 2017.

“Take a group that four years ago won one game in 22 tries (2015-2016 seasons) and then this group comes in and does what they did this year,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “I’m proud of the effort and proud of the rebuild.”

It was a scoreless first quarter but midway through the second quarter, Angelo State’s reserve running back Alfred Grear broke off a 63 yard rushing touchdown. Angelo kicker Asa Fuller would tack on three points late in the second quarter to give the Rams a 13-0 lead at the half. 

“I thought defensively we played valiantly,” Lynn said. “Take away that 60 yard run and it’s a one score game.” 

In the second half, the Loper defenses adjusted to Angelo State’s schemes and only gave up seven points when Angelo quarterback Zack Bronkhorst hit receiver Dagen Dunham on a five-yard pass. Late in the third quarter, UNK safety Darius Swanson recorded his fourth interception of the season putting the Lopers offense on Angelo’s 39-yard line. A big run of 30 yards by Dayton Sealey put the Lopers inside the Angelo 10-yard line. A few plays later, Sealey punched in a five yard rushing touchdown to put the Lopers on the board to make it 20-7. Defensive battles kept both teams from scoring in the fourth as Angelo State would defeat the UNK 20-7

“As a defense, we can’t control how we get on but we can control how to get off,” Swanson said. “We were just trying to put our offense into a better position.”

The Loper offense struggled and finished with a season-low 203 yards of total offense. The Lopers rushing attack finished with 117 yards. Leading the way was Sealey who finished with a team-high 57 yards. Montrez Jackson finished his day with 34 yards.

“Angelo and Northwest Missouri are the two best defenses we’ve seen this year,” Lynn said. “Everything we do stems from running the football.”

On the passing attack, Davis went 9-22 for 86 yards. UNK’s top target Zorian Stanton had two catches for 39 yards while Micheal Koch finished his day with 16 reception yards on one catch.

On the defensive side of the ball, the UNK defense allowed 424 total yards of offense. The Lopers gave up 252 rushing yards while allowing 172 passing yards. Leading the team was a co-effort from Swanson and Jacey Nutter who both had 12 tackles. Zach Schlager and Tell Spies both ended their day with six tackles.

“We let a couple early plays in the first half go that we kinda couldn’t climb back as a defense,” Swanson said.

UNK finished the season 10-3 and second in the MIAA. During the preseason, the Lopers were picked fourth in the MIAA coaches poll and fifth in the media poll. This is also UNK’s second winning season since joining the MIAA in 2012 and Lynn’s fifth with the program.

“Over the course of history of UNK football this is as good a team as we ever had,” Lynn said.

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