KEARNEY — Teams throughout the MIAA are well aware the University of Nebraska at Kearney is as close to one dimensional as it gets on offense.
The Lopers want to run the ball and typically thrive doing it, ranking as one of the top rushing units in Division II.
Saturday afternoon, Northeastern (Okla.) State tried different tactics, including stacking the box, to limit the Lopers’ running attack. Rarely did the RiverHawks stop or even slow down the Lopers, who ran their way to a 45-10 throttling at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
It is the first time the Lopers (3-2) have won a Homecoming game since 2011. The victory also snaps a string of four consecutive losses at Foster Field.
“Extremely happy about how our young men came out and executed,” UNK coach Josh Lynn said. “Sometimes you go into these games and the first afternoon game at home and you come out flat. I don’t think we did that today. I was extremely happy with how we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
The Lopers nearly broke the program’s record of 599 rushing yards in a game, which occurred in 1966 against Chadron State. Third-string quarterback Riley Harms kept the ball on a read option play and stormed up the middle for a 10-yard gain. The double-digit carry pushed the Lopers to 606 rushing yards with less than one-minute left.
The rushing total didn’t hold up, however. After Harms’ third-down scramble, the Lopers had to punt the ball. Backup punter Hunter Kraus received a low snap and went down on a knee to catch the ball — a loss of 13 yards causing the Lopers to finish with 593 yards.
David Goodwin paced the Lopers with nine carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Darrius Webb added seven attempts for 143 yards and two scores, while Garrett Meyer accumulated 113 yards on 11 carries.
“We changed our scheme up just a little bit in regards to (our offensive linemen) trying to get better angles up on the linebackers, and I think it really played well for (our running game) today,” Lynn said.
The Lopers scored on their first six possessions. The only possession that didn’t conclude with a successful field goal or a touchdown was the Lopers’ last drive of the first half when they received the ball with 31 seconds left.
On their first possession, UNK started on the Northeastern 37 after a 17-yard punt. Redshirt freshman TJ Davis, who started at quarterback over senior Alex McGinnis, found the edge and raced up the sideline for 21 yards on the first play. The drive ended on the second play when Goodwin scored on a 16-yard run.
Goodwin gashed the RiverHawks’ defense on the first play of the Lopers’ second drive, dashing up the middle and past the RiverHawks’ defense for a 72-yard score.
“The running backs didn’t get touched for like 30 yards, so that’s nice,” Davis said. “It tells us the receivers are out there blocking. That’s nice, but we just have to keep getting better week in and week out. We just have to keep working and getting better and running the ball and execute.”
The first two series were indicative of the entire game for the Lopers. They consistently gained large chunks of yardage against a porous Northeastern defense.
In the first half, Webb had touchdown runs of 9 and 51 yards and Davis added a 3-yard score.
The Lopers led by 35 points at halftime and played mostly backups the final two quarters.
On their first possession of the second half, Davis capped an eight-play, 78-yard drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown. It was the Lopers’ only scoring drive of the second half, as two mistakes ruined promising drives later in the half.
With the Lopers at the Northeastern 32, McGinnis tossed an interception on a deep pass towards the end zone with about five minutes left in the third quarter. The Lopers’ next drive ended when Treygan Gowen pushed a 32-yard field-goal attempt wide right early in the fourth quarter.
The Lopers finished with 666 yards of total offense and averaged 10.9 yards per play.
The RiverHawks managed 235 yards of total offense and 14 first downs. They had a successful 39-yard field goal and scored their lone touchdown on a 17-yard pass with less than three minutes left.
“We gave up a few big plays here and there, but overall, we played solidly and this can really help this to build going forward,” said linebacker Jacey Nutter, who finished with a team-high 12 tackles.
Nutter replaced the injured Rakid Hill at linebacker.
Up next, the Lopers face Lincoln Univeristy (0-5) on Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo.
n UNK 45, NSU 10
Scores by Quarter
NSU (0-5)0 3 0 7 — 10
UNK (3-2)21 17 7 0 — 45
UNK — David Goodwin 16 run (Junior Gonzalez kick good)
UNK — Goodwin 72 run (Gonzalez kick good)
UNK — Darrius Webb 9 run (Gonzalez kick good)
UNK — Gonzalez 27 field goal
NSU — Brady Ellsworth 39 field goal
UNK — TJ Davis 3 run (Gonzalez kick)
UNK — Webb 51 run (Treygan Gowen kick good)
UNK — Davis 2 run (Gowen kick good)
NSU — Kaden Kerr 17 pass from Jake Pruitt (Ellsworth kick good)
RUSHING — NSU: Kevin Jackson 17-33, Boo McKnight 3-13, Jacob Medrano 6-4, Kobe Bryer 2-(-1-), Jake Pruitt 5-(-4). UNK: David Goodwin 9-157, Darrius Webb 7-143, Garrett Meyer 11-113, TJ Davis 9-84, Dayton Sealey 3-74, Riley Harms 6-25, Alex McGinnis 1-7, Luke Quinn 1-2, Cody Summers 1-1, Hunter Kraus 1-(-13).
PASSING — NSU: Jacob Medrano 13-26-0 112 yards, Jake Pruitt 7-11-0 78 pass. UNK: Alex McGinnis 4-5-1 31 yards, Riley Harms 3-5-0 20 yards, TJ Davis 2-2-0 22 yards.
RECEIVING — NSU: Kobe Bryer 4-19, Mark Wheeland 3-41, Kaden Kerr 3-38, Claude Williams 3-32, Kevin Jackson 2-17, Cory Jones 1-19, Gage Ramey 1-12, Nick Thompson 1-9, Jared Taylor 1-3, Boo McKnight 1-0. UNK: Sedarius Young 3-31, Thomas Tews 1-10, Cody Nelson 1-10, Luke Quinn 1-7, D’angelo Shepherd 1-6, Michael Koch 1-5, Mitch Carlson 1-4.