The Nebraska-Kearney football team rushed for 474 yards and pitched its first shutout in 10 years to blast Missouri Southern State, 45-0, Thursday night at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
This marks the second straight season opening win for UNK, the first time that has happened since 2003 and 2004. On the other side of the ball, the Lions drop a 16th consecutive game dating back to October 2016.
“We have lot of things to be excited about and it was a good team win. The defense answered the bell all night and our special teams was outstanding,” said Loper head coach Josh Lynn. “Offensively, we had some lulls. We executed things well overall but we have to do a better job of maintaining drives.”
Behind a balanced rushing attack, a swarming defense and some fortuitous early bounces, UNK dominated from start to finish. The Lopers led 7-0 after the first quarter, 24-0 at the break and then scored 14 points in the final eight minutes.
“The big (offensive) plays were nice, especially the ones on third down. It starts up front and those guys did a good job of keeping linebackers and interior linemen off our backs. And our backs hung on to the ball tonight and made a play when it was there turn,” said Lynn.
The offense held the ball for nearly 35 minutes and reached its rushing total in 56 carries (8.5 avg.) with nine different players toting the rock at least once. The Loper “D” registered three sacks, broke up four passes, recovered two fumbles and made a goal line stand.
Historically, the rushing total ranks fifth best in school history, third best in the Division II era (1990-present) and tops in the MIAA era (2012-present). The five rushing TD’s are two off the school mark with the 45-point margin of victory the second highest in the MIAA era.
Individually, junior newcomer Darrius Webb (Allentown, Pal) carried the ball eight times for 162 yards and had scoring runs of three, 10 and 98 yards. The 98-yarder ties the school record, set by Kearney native Rustin Dring in a 2008 road game, and came right after a goal line stand.
Having a stable of backs this year, UNK brought in junior David Goodwin (Lauderhill, Fla.) in the second half and he finished with 113 yards and two scores on eight carries. The 2017 redshirt reached the end zone from 38 and 58 yards out, respectively.
To start the scoring, sophomore back Dayton Sealey (Hastings St. Cecilia) caught a 10-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Alex McGinnis (Crete). Sealey now has seven TD’s (five rushing and two receiving) in 70 career touches.
“Alex would probably like to throw it a bit more but he threw it when we needed him to and was very productive,” said Lynn. “He made a lot of good reads in the run game. I can’t remember him missing one read and that really helps our offense click.”
Facing an offense with a new coordinator and an unknown scheme, UNK held MSU to 246 yards (70 rushing and 176 passing). In a 16-6 loss to the Lopers last fall, the Lions mustered only 288 yards. Prior to tonight, the last UNK shut out was a 24-0 win over Fort Lewis in October 2008.
Overall, Mo Southern was forced to punt nine times, had only two drives that garnered more than 40 yards and was stuffed on first and goal from the Loper two-yard line midway through the third quarter.