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Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney football team scored with 1:11 left and got a fortuitous bounce on fourth down to cap a wild win over Central Oklahoma, 31-27, Thursday night in Edmond.
This is UNK’s first 2-0 start since 2011 when it reached the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Lopers also win in Edmond for the first time since 1994 and pick up its second win over the Bronchos (0-2) as an MIAA member.
While the rains stayed away, it was still an overcast and muggy night in Edmond. The two teams traded blows until the very end and combined for 58 points, 831 yards of offense, three turnovers and 14 penalties for 134 yards. The flags often were of the 15 yard variety and came on third or fourth down, prolonging drives that led to scores. UNK was dinged several times but it was a UCO flag that was big in the waning moments.
Ahead 24-20 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lopers had a 71-yard drive in the works but an errant snap on third and five flipped the momentum back to UCO. The ‘Chos promptly drove 85 yards in five plays, getting a two-yard scoring run from reserve quarterback Chandler Garrett with 3:10 remaining. A personal foul on 1st & 10 from the UNK 36-yard line helped the ‘Chos move down the field a bit quicker.
However, turnabout is fair play as UCO was called for pass interference on UNK’s next offensive play. That moved the ball out to the Loper 33-yard line and negated an incomplete pass. Three runs by backs, netting 24 yards, got UNK to midfield and then QB Alex McGinnis (Crete) called his own number. He rumbled around and through some UCO defenders for a 22-yard gain.
Two plays later McGinnis completed a 22-yard pass to receiver Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) down the sidelines. The highlight worthy grab put UNK on the doorstep and then, fittingly, fifth-year junior Luke Quinn (Scottsdale, Ariz.) scored the night’s final points from a yard out.
Of course, the ‘Chos didn’t go quietly. UNK kicked the ball out of bounds, allowing UCO to start its final drive at its own 35-yard line. Starting QB Keats Calhoun then completed passes of 11 and 26 yards, respectively, and suddenly the Loper defense was on its 28-yard line with plenty of time remaining.
Kearney buoyed up, forcing two incomplete passes and getting a tackle for loss from senior end Tye Spies (Mullen). The designed run by Calhoun could’ve gone for a big gain on third and 10 but Spies was there to stop him in the middle. After a timeout, Calhoun’s fourth down pass looked to be picked off but was instead deflected and hung in the air. The loose ball fell just off the hands of receiver Dustin Basks who might’ve scored had he made the catch. The 5-9 junior finished with 11 receptions for 136 yards.
Overall, UNK ended the long night with 52 carries for 284 yards and three scores. Junior Darrius Webb (Allentown, Pa.) had several big early runs and ended with 14 totes for 99 yards with Quinn totaling 41 yards on 11 carries. Next, sophomore Dayton Sealey (St. Cecilia) had 7 carries for 71 yards with junior David Goodwin (Lauderhill, Fla.) providing a big pop in the second half to the tune of three carries for 38 yards.
McGinnis called his own number 14 times and finished with 58 yards while going 6 of 8 in the air for 166 yards. He threw a 38-yard scoring strike to sophomore receiver Dylan Reifeis (Evergreen, Colo.) to give UNK a 27-24 late in the third quarter. Next, Lansman had a team-high 78 yards on three receptions with Quin having 50 yards on only two grabs.
Calhoun, making his second start, powered the UCO offense. He was 21 of 30 for 236 yards and one TD in the air while running nine times for 29 yards. Besides Basks, junior L’liott Curry had 74 receiving yards and one TD on six catches with Garrett being an effective relief pitcher for Calhoun. The Wyoming transfer ran 12 times for 53 yards and two TD’s. He was 0 for 2 as a passer.
A banged up Sal Silvio (Kansas City) led the Loper defense with a team-best 11 tackles. Spies had two of UNK’s eight TFL’s, junior backer Rakid Hill (Florissant, Mo.) made six stops and junior safety Kevin Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) had UNK’s lone sack of the night.
Kearney hosts Emporia State next Saturday for Homecoming. The No. 38 Hornets (1-1) fell at home to No. 28 Pittsburg State tonight, 34-13.