ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The University of Nebraska at Kearney football team ran for 562 yards and six touchdowns to blow past 27th-ranked Missouri Western State, 49-21, Saturday afternoon in St. Joseph, Mo.
The Lopers (6-4) have now secured its first winning season since 2011, which was their last in the Rockey Mountain Athletic Conference. UNK hosts Washburn on at noon Saturday and a bowl bid may be in the cards with a victory against the Ichabods (5-5).
UNK came in with Division II’s third ranked rushing attack at 315 yards per game. They almost had that total by halftime (299 yards) with the final tally being the third highest in school history, trailing only 599 at Chadron State in 1996 and 593 earlier this season against Northeastern State. The six rushing scores tie for second most in Loper history while the 71 carries are third most in a single game. UNK averaged 7.9 yards per carry and had three individuals for the second time this year run for at least 100 yards.
All this came against a Griffon (7-3) squad that had won six straight to put themselves into the national rankings and playoff consideration. Falling to UNK for just the second time since 1988, the Griffons hadn’t lost since Sept. 21 with the Lopers now an impressive 4-1 on the road in 2019.
Almost leading from start to finish, UNK forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and scored six plays later when Luke Quinn ran eight yards on third-and-7. That marked the 16th career rushing score for the sixth-year receiver/running back. Freshman Trey Vaval, the MIAA’s top punt and kick returner, gave the Griffons a brief 7-6 lead when he brought back the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a score. However, UNK tallied 29 of the next 35 points to build a 28-point cushion midway through the third quarter. And the lead could have been more, as two drives stalled inside the Griffon 35-yard line.
To make it 35-14, senior back David Goodwin had a 9-yard scoring run, senior back Darrius Webb ran down the sidelines 59 yards for a TD, redshirt freshman quarterback TJ Davis called his own number from nine yards out and then tossed a 53-yard scoring strike to senior receiver Sedarius Young. Webb ran for two 2-point conversions during this onslaught.
For good measure, Webb ran 71 yards for another score with Davis tallying his team-best 11th rushing TD of the season when he ran 11 yards for six points with less than six minutes remaining.
With all phases of the option attack working, Webb amassed 184 yards on just six carries, Goodwin had 172 on 20 attempts and Davis had a season-high 30 touches for 149 yards. Also junior back Dayton Sealey added 49 yards on nine carries. UNK attempted six passes with senior receiver and former QB Cody Summers having a 15-yard completion to Quinn in the third quarter to pick up a first down.
Out gaining the Griffons by a 629-300 margin, the Lopers ran 20 more plays and had the ball for 15 more minutes. The Griffons ran 27 times for only 99 yards with senior QB Wyatt Steigerwald going 14 of 22 for 161 yards, one TD and one interception. He also was sacked twice.
Senior inside linebacker Sal Silvio had seven tackles and a forced fumble to pace the defense. He has 306 career tackles, making him just the third Loper to reach at least 300. Sophomore inside linebacker Jacey Nutter had six stops, junior corner Terrell Williams had five solo tackles, a forced fumble and a 6-yard sack while sophomore safety Blake Bubak had his third interception of the season.