Kearney, Neb. – Defending national champion Northwest Missouri State used the big play to defeat Nebraska-Kearney, 52-14, Saturday afternoon in Maryville. A “Family Day” crowd of 8,550 watched the Bearcats improve to 3-0 and record an 18th straight victory.
Both teams used the big play to put points on the board. For Northwest, fifth-senior quarterback Kyle Zimmerman had touchdown passes of 40, 42, 52 and 75 yards. He finished 14 of 25 for 277 yards and no interceptions while rushing five times for 29 yards. “Northwest is a great football team. They execute at a very high level, have really great players and coaches and have a phenomenal culture. You combine all those and that’s the result you get on the scoreboard,” said Loper head coach and former Northwest QB Josh Lamberson.
The Bearcats took control of the contest by scoring 21 points in the final 2:13 of the first half, making the score 38-7. The barrage began with a 59-yard interception return for a TD by junior linebacker Jarrod Bishop. Next, senior receiver George Sehl (two recep., 82 yards) caught a 42-yard stroke from Zimmerman with 1:41 left and then, after a fourth down stop by the ‘Cats defense, sophomore receiver Shawn Bane Jr. hauled in a 52-yard TD pass.
To start the second half, Bane Jr. (two recep., 127 yards) hooked up with Zimmerman from 75 yards out. “That’s what good teams. They smell blood in the water and they pour it on,” said Lamberson. “They found a little bit of a weakness and exposed it. Unfortunately, we also had the pick six in there and that’s happened to often for us. We got some stuff to clean up.”
UNK got into the big play act as sophomore running back Luke Quinn (Chandler, Ariz.) caught a short pass from redshirt freshman QB Steve Worthing (Elkhorn South H.S.) and raced untouched down the field for a 72-yard score. It was just the third play from scrimmage and gave the Lopers a 7-0 lead.
“Anytime you can have success against Northwest’s defense you count it as a win. Ultimately, you got to build on that and continue to have success and that wasn’t something we were able to do today. But happy for the guys to be able to experience a positive thing like that early on,” said Lamberson.
Late in the third quarter, senior corner Antwan Hadley (Lake Wales, Fla.) picked off a tipped pass and went 85 yards for his second score in a UNK uniform.
Overall, Northwest tallied 486 yards of offense to UNK’s 171. The ‘Cats ground attack went for 184 yards on 44 carries with 12 different players catching a pass. The NW defense managed seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of 35 yards.
For Kearney, Worthing went 10 of 24 for 134 yards, one TD and one INT. He also gained 34 yards on eight carries. Redshirt freshman Justin Roberts (Arvada, Colo.) also played for a third straight week and was 4 of 9 for 18 yards and one INT, which came via deflection.
Seven Lopers caught a pass, led by Texas senior Preston Foley with four. True freshman receiver Kentrez Bell (Kansas City) managed 31 yards on three receptions.
Defensively, Sargent senior linebacker Tyke Kozeal had a game-high 19 tackles, 13 of the solo variety. The pushed his career total to 482. Also, redshirt freshman safety Dallas Vaughn (St. Louis) had seven stops, including a crushing blow in the first half. He also recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter. UNK hosts Washburn next Saturday.