JACK LEACH | Reporter
When the team you’re facing nearly doubles your time of possession, and is only limited to one punt the entire game, your chances of winning are certainly slim.
This Saturday afternoon, the Lions were defeated 41-14 by Nebraska-Kearney and their potent rushing attack.
Kearney’s scoring outburst was quickly foreshadowed on their first drive of the game. After receiving the kickoff, the Lopers drove 56 yards on 14 plays to set up a Brian Covarrubias 24-yard field goal. The running game was quickly established as 11 out of those 14 plays were rushing attempts.
After a punt for Lindenwood, Kearney looked to MIAA leading rusher Darrius Webb. On the second play of the drive, a Webb 55-yard run put the Lopers into the Lindenwood redzone. Four plays later, Webb found the endzone from six yards out to put the Lopers up 10-0 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Another Lindenwood punt gave the Lopers the ball back at the start of the second. Their third consecutive scoring drive was headlined by quarterback Alex McGinnis, who passed for 42 yards and rushed for 14 on the drive alone. However, after failing to reach the endzone from the five-yard line, Kearney’s field goal unit went out to the field to take the three points. But, backup quarterback Cody Summers took the direct snap, and shoveled it to linebacker Travis Holcomb for the fake field goal touchdown. This Kearney drive was responsible for 18 plays and nine minutes of total time of possession.
Now trailing 17-0, the Lions offense needed to at least go into halftime with a score. After three consecutive minuscule rushes by quarterback Cade Brister, Lindenwood was already looking at a fourth down. At midfield, the Lions rolled the dice and went for it; Brister hit running back Cam Sanders for an eight-yard completion that moved the chains. Two plays later, Brister again hit Sanders for a 38-yard touchdown pass with three minutes remaining.
Now trailing 17-0, the Lions offense needed to at least go into halftime with a score.
Backup running back Dayton Sealey took the following kickoff 43 yards to put the Lopers once again in beautiful field position. A Webb rush for first down, and a Lindenwood pass interference penalty set up Kearney for a McGinnis touchdown plunge from the one-yard line. Kearney took a big 24-7 lead into half.
A Sanders kickoff return was downed at Lindenwood’s 17-yard line to start off the third quarter. Two plays later, Brister fumbled and the Lopers recovered very close to their endzone. Webb scored eight seconds later, putting Kearney up 31-7 not even a minute in the second half.
Lindenwood followed that drive up with a punt that was returned back to the Loper offense. Kearney once again kept chipping away at the Lions defense, converting multiple third downs on small gains. These conversions paired with two Lindenwood personal fouls, setting up another Lopers score midway through the third. McGinnis delivered a 10-yard strike to backup running back David Goodwin for the touchdown.
Lindenwood’s next possession, Brister finally orchestrated a second half touchdown-scoring drive. Three first down completions to wide receivers Payton Rose and Paul Silvio, followed by a Kearney pass interference penalty, put the Lions offense into scoring position. After a 12-yard Sanders run that was downed at the one-yard line, Brister capped the drive off with a sneak over the goal line to cut the Loper lead to 24.
Kearney’s final score of the game came after Lindenwood’s turnover on downs from their own 12-yard line. With 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Covarrubias converted his second field goal of the game from 28 yards out.
The Lions look to snap this two-game losing streak next week as they travel to Northeastern State (0-6) for a 1 p.m. conference matchup.