Kearney, Neb. – Thirteenth-ranked Northwest Missouri State scored 21 first quarter points, made some defensive stops in the second half and recovered an onside kick to hold off Nebraska-Kearney, 27-13, Saturday afternoon in Maryville.
The Bearcats (6-1) are now 12-3 all-time against the Lopers (4-3) and push its overall record to 117-15 over the last decade.
UNK got off the mat after it found itself down 21-0 just 13 minutes into the game. Northwest’s first three drives all resulted in touchdowns and covered 75, 75 and 79 yards. The last score was “trick play” as freshman receiver LaTroy Harper threw a 67-yard strike to junior back Brody McMahon.
However, the Lopers controlled the next two quarters and closed within 21-13 with 10:36 remaining. Junior quarterback Alex McGinnis (Crete) ran for a three-yard score, on third and goal, at the 4:31 mark of the first half and then added a five-yard TD run early in the fourth. Northwest hadn’t allowed a rushing TD since a 2016 NCAA playoff semifinal win over Ferris (Mich.) State, a string of 19 games and 647 carries.
The Lopers could’ve had more points at this time of the game but failed on fourth and six from the Bearcat 43-yard line early in the second quarter. They then failed on fourth and five from the Northwest 15-yard line to start the second half and a McGinnis pass on fourth and nine fell incomplete on fourth and nine from the Bearcats 28-yard line. That also came in the third quarter. Overall, UNK ended up 2 for 5 on fourth down.
After McGinnis’s second TD run, UNK tried an on-side kick. Northwest unfortunately recovered the loose ball at its own 48-yard line. Eight plays later sophomore Parker Sampson booted a 21-yard field goal to make it a two score game. Prior to this field goal, Northwest had amassed just 39 yards over seven drives. Those possessions ended with five punts, a turnover and a fourth down stop by the Lopers.
UNK tried to come back after the field goal but Northwest picked off McGinnis on the next two drives. The first led to another short field goal by Parker with the second coming in Bearcat territory.
The ‘Cats out gained the Lopers 366-331 yards while UNK had the ball seven more minutes. Kearney managed 132 rushing and 199 passing yards with Northwest seeing Elkhorn native Braden Wright go 13 of 26 for 177 yards and one TD. The one-time Loper commit also rushed 11 times for 55 yards and a score.
McGinnis finished 11 of 30 for 199 yards and those two late INT’s. He was UNK’s top rusher, carrying the ball 16 times for 44 yards and two TD’s. Next, redshirt freshman receiver/back Montrez Jackson (Trenton, Fla.) had his best day in a Blue & Gold uniform. He had three catches for 117 yards and two rushes for nine more yards. Jackson’s long reception covered 58 yards.
Besides Wright, former Missouri Western All-American back Josh Caldwell got hot late and tallied 61 yards on 15 carries with receivers Cody Massey and Shawn Bane Jr. combining for 124 receiving yards on eight catches.
Defensively, Kansas City native Sal Silvio had a game-high 13 tackles (11 solo) with St. Louis junior safety Dallas Vaughn at seven tackles, one pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Finally, juniors Jordan Ingraham (Miami and Kevin Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) had two of UNK’s four TFL’s.
Northwest saw junior safety Trent Nally have two INT’s with senior corner Jack Richards (12) and senior linebacker Nick Hess (nine) combining for 21 tackles.
UNK hosts Fort Hays State next Saturday at 11 a.m. The Tigers blasted Pittsburg State today at home, 50-21.