Kearney, Neb. – Backup sophomore quarterback Kyle Bradley threw a six-yard scoring pass to senior receiver Kyrion Parker with 1:19 left to help Central Missouri edge Nebraska-Kearney, 42-35, Saturday in Warrensburg.
On “Homecoming” UCM (4-5) ends a three-game losing streak while UNK (4-5) has now lost three games by a combined 13 points.
The Lopers found themselves down 35-7 after Parker, a 6-4, 200 pound redshirt senior, caught his second touchdown pass of the day at the 8:01 mark of the third quarter. A 78-yard kick return by redshirt freshman receiver Montrez Jackson (Trenton, Fla.) followed to jump start a 28-0 UNK run.
Three plays after Jackson’s big return, sophomore back Dayton Sealey (St. Cecilia) scored from six-yards out. The defense responded with a three and out but UCM punted the ball to the UNK nine-yard line. On the very next play, junior QB Alex McGinnis (Crete) hooked up with Jackson for an unlikely 91-yard TD toss to suddenly make it 35-21 with 5:36 left in the third. That ties for the fifth longest passing play in school history.
The UNK momentum continued as a 24-yard punt return by senior back Luke Quinn (Scottsdale, Ariz.) set up the next score later in the third. On third and goal, junior back David Goodwin (Lauderhill, Fla.) dove in from a yard out. After another stop by the defense, the Lopers marched 82 yards in 13 plays to tie things up. Quinn ran from two yards out with 7:57 remaining to tally the equalizer.
For the fourth straight dive the defense forced the Mules to punt and UNK took over at its own 11-yard line at the 6:32 mark. Six straight rushes and a pass interference call on third down moved the ball to midfield. Two plays later, McGinnis hit Jackson for a four-yard gain and a first down but UCM corner Trevore Sanders forced a fumble and safety Codie Bell picked up the loose ball and raced 45 yards down the sidelines.
Sophomore back Devante Turner then ran for a first down but UNK tackled him for a one-yard loss, setting up third and goal from the Loper six. After a timeout, Bradley hit Parker for the winning score. He ended the game with nine receptions for 146 yards and three TD’s.
The MIAA’s top offense coming into the weekend, UCM tallied 450 yards on 65 plays (6.9 avg.). Turner had a team-high 77 rushing yards and one TD with Bradley and starter Jeremy Hunt combining to go 18 of 30 for 252 yards, four TD’s and no INT’s through the air. UNK had allowed just six passing scores prior to today.
UCM was dinged 17 times for 173 penalty yards. UNK had just 28 penalty yards on four flags.
After Parker’s final catch, UNK got the ball to midfield but a fourth and five play gained four yards. The Lopers ended with 398 yards on 79 plays (5.0 avg.) and had a 35:30 to 24:30 time of possession advantage. Kearney was 1 for 4 on fourth down but held UCM to 2 of 11 on third down.
The tenor of the game changed late in the first half when a third down completion to senior receiver Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) was ruled incomplete. UNK failed to convert on fourth down and UCM tallied 21 points in the next three minutes of game time.
Jackson paced the Lopers with five catches for 156 yards and four kick returns for 147 yards. He also rushed two times for 16 yards (319 all-purpose yards). A 221-yard rushing attack was led by junior back Darrius Webb (16 carries, 64 yards) and Sealey (nine carries, 54 yards) with McGinnis 9 of 20 for 177 yards in the air.
Defensively, UNK got seven tackles from senior corner Famous McKinnon (Miami), six apiece from junior end Hinwa Allieu (Gaithersburg, Md.), junior ILB Rakid Hill (Kansas City) and junior OLB Zach Sullivan (Millard South). Finally, senior OLB Cliffond Taylor (Miami) had one of UNK’s three sacks.
On the UCM side of the field, sophomore ILB John Embrey (11) and Bell (10) combined for 21 tackles.
UNK hosts Missouri Western State next Saturday to close out its 2018 home slate. The Griffons (5-4) fell at home today to Pittsburg State, 34-14.