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Lopers put complete game together to get fifth win


The UNK football team took on the Missouri Western State Griffons on Saturday in Saint Joseph, Missouri. The Lopers were able to control the game throughout winning 39-18.

UNK was able to limit the big plays from the Griffons and make them earn everything.

“If you look at the overall stats, I think we did a good job of eliminating the big play,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “Our red zone defense was great again. They scored some points, but we got off the field at times which was big.”

After a Griffon field goal to cut the Loper lead to 18-10, UNK went on a 5:40 drive that ended with a 23-yard passing touchdown to Bailey Torres.

“That’s what we needed and we felt that our defense had been on the field quite a bit,” Lynn said. “We felt like we needed to have a staple drive and really take some time off the clock and just put more points up.”

UNK cornerback Jaylen Perkins intercepted Griffon quarterback Reagan Jones on the next possession. Loper quarterback TJ Davis rushed for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 32-10. Montrez Jackson’s 32-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left to play sealed the victory.

“We talked about it (playing four full quarters) all week,” Lynn said. “We felt like if we could get them into the fourth quarter, with as many offensive and defensive linemen that we were playing, we felt like we could lean on them. The physicality and the line of scrimmage we took over a little bit.”

The Lopers opened the game with a bang, scoring on the third play of the game with a 59-yard touchdown run by Davis. 

“We felt like we needed to score some points early,” Lynn said. “With the way they were, they only had two wins, you definitely don’t want teams to hang around. To get those points early was definitely beneficial.”

A fake extra point flip from holder Hunter Kraus to linebacker Willie Fair got the 2-point conversion to give UNK the 8-0 lead. 

“We just saw when they loaded up on one side and we knew we had the fake if they lined up a certain way and they did,” Lynn said. “That was neat. It’s always fun to let our holder throw a two-point conversion.”

The Griffons came into this game with the No. 2 rushing offense in the MIAA averaging 221 yards per game coming into the contest. UNK has the No. 1 rushing offense averaging just under 275 yards per game. 

Both quarterbacks combined for 265 yards rushing as Davis had 162 and Jones had 103. Davis passed for 90 yards which pushed him past 4,000 in his career, he already passed 3,000 career rushing yards earlier this season.

The Lopers were led on defense by Darius Swanson and Jimmy Harrison with 11 tackles each. Linebacker Jacey Nutter added nine tackles, which put him over 200 in his career making him the 19th Loper to accomplish the feat since 1990.

The win puts UNK in sole-possession second place in the MIAA. Pittsburg State defeated Northwest Missouri 24-22 in a top-25 matchup to stay undefeated in conference play. 

UNK will host a fast-paced Emporia State offensive attack this week and a defense that held Pittsburg State to 14 points earlier this season.

“You look at them defensively, they’re a three-man front and nobody’s kind of ran over them,” Lynn said. “They get to the ball and they fit really well. I truly believe this is the biggest test we’ve seen up to this point. They’re Pitt State quality.”

The Hornets come into the contest 4-2 with kickoff set at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium for 1 p.m.

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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