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Lopers down big early, fall to Washburn

Washburn safety  D.J. Olmstead (2) returns an interception for a touchdown, Sept. 23, 2017, versus the UNK Lopers (KHGI)

TOPEKA, KS --- Special teams and big breaks for Washburn doomed the Lopers from the outset, beating UNK 60-28, Saturday at Yager Stadium at Moore Bowl in Topeka, Kans.

The Ichabods (3-1), who had three non-offensive scores, have now win nine straight over the Lopers (1-3) dating back to 1985.

Washburn gabbed a 7-0 lead just minutes into the game when redshirt freshman Garrett Barnett-Kruger blocked a punt and fellow linebacker Jacob Anderson returned it five yards for a score. With 2:25 left in the second quarter, the 'Bods capped a 39-point first half when senior safety D.J. Olmstead returned an interception 66 yards for a TD. The pick came on fourth and one.

In between these big plays, the WU offense had scoring drives of 58, 41, 70 and 19 yards. With the Lopers first six drives resulting in punts, the 'Bods average starting field in the first half was its own 46-yard line.

UNK's offense awoke in a big way after the break, scoring four TD's on drives of 80, 50, 74 and 75 yards. However, Washburn recovered a fumbled punt for six points and then, in the waning seconds, brought back an onside kick 43 yards. That led to a one-yard scoring run with 11 seconds remaining.

Overall, Kearney out gained Washburn, 373-313. The 'Bods had a 22-point second quarter and a 21-point fourth quarter with their best offensive drive in the second half being a 10-play, 70-yard march that featured seven runs.

Loper redshirt sophomore quarterback Steve Worthing (Elkhorn South) went 23 of 34 for a career-high 287 yards and three TD's. The three scoring passes ties a career-best effort, set last October in a win over Central Oklahoma.

Worthing, who also rushed 10 times for 19 yards, had TD tosses of 8, 38 and 51 yards. Junior receiver Sedarius Young (Orlando, Fla.) had the two long receptions with junior tight end Alex Harms (North Platte) having the other. Junior back Isaiah Brown (Dayton, Ohio) tallied his first score as a Loper, plunging in from a yard out with 5:14 left in the third quarter.

Ten different Lopers caught a pass from Worthing, led by Kearney junior receiver Blake Holtemier (five for 47 yards). Young had a team-high 94 yards with sophomore back Thomas Russell (Millard West) snagging three for 19 yards. On the ground, Russell had 55 yards for a second straight Saturday.

UNK came in as the MIAA's top rushing defense (58 ypg) and the 'Bods didn't produce a lot on the ground until that 70-yard drive. Senior back Mickeel Stewart finished with 14 carries and 38 yards with the team total being 94 yards.

Defensively, Kansas sophomore inside back Sal Silvio had a team-best nine tackles (six solo.). His total included 2.5 TFL's and one of UNK's four sacks. Next, senior corner Justin James (Charlotte) and sophomore safety Dallas Vaughn (St. Louis) both made seven stops junior safety Vance Johnson (Salina, Kan.) having six in his first UNK start.

UNK heads to Missouri Southern State (0-4) next Saturday. The Lions fell to No. 1 Northwest Missouri State today in Maryville, 63-0.

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