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The Antelope

Third-straight loss comes in walk-off fashion

Quarterback Sean Johnson Jr. evades a defender. Photo by Treaton Harimon / Antelope Staff

After two losses on the road, the Loper football team returned home Saturday afternoon to take on Missouri Western, and dropped a close game 20-17. 

UNK had a ten point lead going into the fourth quarter, but gave up 13 points in the period, including a game winning field goal after a controversial overturned fumble, to drop their second game at home. 

Things started out well for Missouri Western, returning the opening kickoff 57 yards to set the Griffons up at the UNK 28-yard line. Missouri Western took advantage of the short field, punching in a two-yard rushing touchdown from Seth Cromwell. 

After three punts, and a missed 46-yard field goal from Missouri Western, UNK would score late in the first quarter on a 36-yard touchdown pass from TJ Davis to Cole Brown. 

On the next drive, Missouri Western would march all the way to the Loper six-yard line, on a 10-play 69-yard drive, but went for it on fourth and inches, and would be stopped by Quilan Felton, giving the Lopers the ball at their own six early in the second quarter. 

UNK answered with a quick drive, going 94 yards on only seven plays, with the drive ending on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Reggie Anderson, and the Lopers led 14-7. 

Near the end of the first half, the Griffons drove 66 yards on 14 plays, and had an opportunity for a field goal with 10 seconds left in the half, but Tell Spies blocked the 30-yard field goal attempt and the Lopers carried a 14-7 lead into the half. 

After a pair of punts to open the second half, UNK put together an 11-play drive that ended in a 46-yard field goal by Kyle Failing to give the Lopers a 17-7 lead with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter. 

After that, the Griffons would take over. It started with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took seven-and-a-half minutes off the clock that ended in a 14-yard passing touchdown to cut the Loper lead to 17-14 early in the fourth. 

UNK answered with a three-and-out, and then Cody Watson, after missing his first two field goals in the first half, hit a 34-yard field goal after an eight-play drive to tie the game for Missouri Western at 17. 

The Lopers moved the ball to the Missouri Western 31, but got behind the sticks. Instead of taking the field goal opportunity, the Lopers instead punted it, and the punt would only go for 12 yards.

On the second play of the Missouri Western drive, Traveon James caught a 14-yard pass but appeared to fumble the football that would’ve given the Lopers the football in Griffon territory with 2:28 left. However, Missouri Western challenged the play and the call was overturned, allowing Missouri Western to keep the ball late in the fourth. 

“That would have been nice to have,” coach Ryan Held said. “Now you have to switch back and get in the mode of needing to make a stop, and that’s where we need to continue to learn. You have to be able to let that go and play the next down.” 

Missouri Western moved down the field, milked the rest of the clock, and with three seconds left, Watson hit a 31-yard field goal as time expired, giving Missouri Western the 20-17 victory. 

Davis went 7-9 through the air, throwing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Backup quarterback Sean Johnson Jr. led the Lopers in rushing with 10 carries for 89 yards. Felton led the Lopers in tackles with eight. The Lopers allowed Missouri Western to go 7-14 on third downs, going 3-10 themselves. Missouri Western also picked up 11 more first downs. 

“I’m not going to say anything that makes the pain easier,” Held said. “I just appreciate the effort because when you’re a 2-5 team trying to get right, and you lose on a last second field goal, those are hard when you’re so close. That’s a game we need to win.” 

The Lopers now fall to 2-6, which is tied for their most losses since the 2018 season. UNK will take on 5-3 Emporia State on the road next Saturday, kickoff is set for 2 p.m. 

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Jon Willis
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