The UNO football team used a strong first half to outlast the Fort Hays State Tigers 27-14 on Senior Day at Caniglia Field. The Mavericks scored all of their points in the first two quarters to earn the win and improve to 6-3 and 5-3 in the MIAA.
The Mavericks started quickly, scoring on a 5-yard run by Zach Miller on their first possession. The drive nearly ended one play earlier when Brian McNeill fumbled the ball at the five, but the Mavericks recovered. The drive covered 68 yards in just 3:13.
The Tigers were held to a three and out on their first possession, and the Mavericks got good field position when they blocked Tyler Elder’s punt. One play later, Miller hit Troy Kush with a 26-yard pass to make it 14-0.
Fort Hayes State got on the board in stunning fashion on its next possession. Mike Garrison found Anthony Dickson with a pass down the right sideline, and he raced 78 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-7.
UNO got a pair of field goals from Greg Zuerlein to boost its lead to 20-7. The second kick went for a season-high 48 yards.
The Tigers threatened late in the first half, but Drew Steffen bobbled away a sure touchdown. Fort Hayes then missed a chip shot field goal to keep the game 20-7.
The Mavs got the ball back with 1:15 to go and chewed up 83 yards in just 33 seconds. The drive was keyed by a 41-yard run by John McCardle. McNeill finished the drive with a 16-yard run for a touchdown that put the Mavs up 27-7 at the half.
In the second half, defense reigned supreme as neither team dented the end zone in the third quarter. Fort Hays State tacked on a touchdown in the fourth when backup quarterback Anthony Smith, a converted wide receiver, eluded the grasp of Jacob Chandler to avoid a sack and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.
McNeill led the Mavericks in rushing with 109 yards while Miller was 8-for-16 passing for 100 yards and one interception. Kush led all Maverick receivers with five catches for 80 yards.
The Mavericks remain very much in the hunt for a playoff spot as they look ahead to their final game of the regular season. They’ll visit the Washburn University Ichabods on Saturday, Nov. 8. Kick-off is 1 p.m. from Yager Stadium in Topeka, Kan.