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The Antelope

Pitt state uses big second half to down Lopers

UNK football players hold a meeting with their coach on the sidelines. Photo by Kosuke Yoshii / Antelope Staff

The UNK defense kept the Lopers in the game throughout the first half, but 30 points after intermission from third-ranked Pittsburg State helped propel them to a 33-14 victory Saturday.  

Things started out well in the first half for the Loper defense, keeping the Gorillas, who were the MIAA preseason favorites, at bay. 

It was again a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy for UNK. On the first offensive drive for the Gorillas, they drove all the way to the UNK five yard line, but defensive back Robert Bishop Jr. intercepted a pass to give the Lopers the ball back. 

The Loper offense would give the ball right back though after a TJ Davis interception.

Pittsburg State’s only points of the first half came late in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal. 

For a second straight offensive drive for UNK, the Lopers would see another offensive possession end in an interception. 

The defense held strong for the rest of the first half, including another interception from linebacker David Lilly. The Lopers would score halfway through the second quarter on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Severyn Foster. UNK would take a 7-3 lead into the break. 

“That’s kind of been the storyline all year,” said UNK coach Ryan Held. “They (the defense) have kept us in games. We didn’t execute at critical times.” 

From then on, it would be all Gorillas. They scored on three straight possessions to open the second half with a 22-yard field goal, a 10-yard rushing touchdown and an eight-yard receiving touchdown. 

On the ensuing drive early in the fourth quarter, Davis threw his second pick six of the season, putting Pittsburg State up, 26-7. 

Zane Schawang would get a rushing touchdown late for the Lopers, but Pitt State would answer with a 23-yard rushing touchdown of its own, and rolled late to defeat the Lopers, 33-14. 

“The guys are mad as they should be,” Held said. “We’re close, but it’s still just not good enough. They saw for a half that we can compete with anybody, and then it just kind of faltered on us.” 

The Lopers put up 277 yards of offense, but allowed 500 yards of offense, including 298 on the ground. Davis went 12-26 with 164 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He also ran 13 times for 95 yards, with the running backs only rushing 14 times for 17 yards. 

UNK falls to 1-3, its worst start since the 2017 season where they also went 1-3. The Lopers will host 1-3 Washburn for Homecoming on Saturday. UNK has won two straight against the Ichabods. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 30. 

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Jon Willis, Reporter
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