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Lopers return home for pivotal Northwest Missouri State matchup


The UNK versus Northwest Missouri State game last year decided the conference champion. This year, the Lopers’ homecoming matchup will keep the winner alive for a playoff spot. 

Both teams enter with a 6-2 record and are tied for second place in the MIAA.

“Everybody knows the caliber of game this is,” said UNK coach Josh Lynn. “Last year I think we might have overhyped it a bit and we didn’t play too well. We’ll take a different approach here.”

Northwest Missouri trailed MIAA-leading Pittsburg State 21-3 earlier this season. The Bearcats came all the way back, just to fall short on a two-point conversion to lose 24-22. 

The Lopers lost 35-28 in their home opener against Pittsburg State, who scored the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left.

Northwest Missouri comes into the game with the top rushing defense in the league, holding teams to 32.3 yards per game. UNK has the top rushing attack averaging 271.6 yards per game. Quarterback TJ Davis is the top rusher with 874 yards this season.

Northwest Missouri defensive tackle Elijah Green leads the league in tackles for loss with 18 and sacks with 10. Linebacker Isaac Vollstedt leads the team in tackles with 44.

“Their front seven is as good as anyone we’ve seen,” Lynn said. “They’re not real complicated. They have really good players and they execute their scheme well. There’s not much bust. They base up and they run and they tackle.”

On offense, the Bearcats are led by junior quarterback Mike Hohensee. He has thrown for 1,288 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

“He distributes the ball really well,” Lynn said. “He plays within the system and when he needs to make plays he’ll go make plays.”

The Lopers are 1-8 against Northwest Missouri since joining the MIAA. Their lone win was the last time the Bearcats came to Kearney in 2019.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. 

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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