The Nebraska Omaha Mavericks’ football season came to an end on Saturday as they lost to Pittsburg State 33-21 in NCAA Division II Championship first round action. The Mavericks finished the season with a record of 7-4.
The Gorillas marched down field on their opening possession and got on the board when Brandon Clark took it in from one yard out. The drive covered 80 yards in 6:25.
The Mavericks responded. Aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty, they marched deep into PSU territory. But after two negative plays including a nine-yard loss on a sack, the Mavs looked to be in trouble until quarterback Zach Miller found Kelvin Nesbit alone in the end zone on a third-and-20 play. The 21-yard pass for a touchdown tied the game at 7-7 after the first quarter.
Two pass interference penalties by UNO’s defense help set up the Gorillas on their next drive to go up 14-7. PSU got the ball back, and quarterback Mark Smith rushed 20 yards on one carry and then hit Nathan Thomas out in the flat. Thomas ran the ball in to make it 20-7. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
The defense came up big after Jacob Chandler picked of Smith and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Pitt State had one final scoring chance in the half, but Jared Whitter’s 46-yard field goal attempt was short and the Mavs trailed 20-14.
The Mavericks got the ball to start the second half but turned it over when tailback Brian McNeill fumbled on the Pitt State 45-yard line. The Gorillas were four yards from the end zone on the ensuing possession when Smith was picked off by UNO’s Jeff Souder on a third-down play to squelch the drive. Heading into the fourth quarter, the scored remained 20-14.
The Mavs grab the lead when Miller hit McNeill on a 27 yard touchdown pass to put UNO up 21-20 less than two minutes into the fourth. But Clark would run for his third touchdown of the day and Pitt State regained the lead late in the fourth to go up 26-21. The Gorillas missed their second two-point conversion attempt and the deficit stayed at five.
The Mavs were unable to do anything with their own drive and PSU added a late touchdown to seal the deal.