Kearney, Neb. – Redshirt junior quarterback Brook Bolles threw for 325 yards and had two short scoring runs to help 32nd-ranked Central Missouri beat Nebraska Kearney, 45-7, Saturday afternoon at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
The Mules (4-2) beat the Lopers (2-4) for a fifth straight time and have averaged 44 points in those victories.
A Lincoln North Star graduate, Bolles directed an up tempo, high-powered offense that produced 529 yards in 84 plays (6.3 avg.). The Mules became the first team to crack 100 rushing yards against the Loper defense, tallying 189 and five TD’s on 45 carries. In the air, Bolles and backup Kyle Bradley combined to go 29 of 39 for 340 yards, one TD and no interceptions.
“It was a tough day. Their quarterback played extremely well and they had good offensive schemes to keep our defense off balance,” said Loper head coach Josh Lynn. “Offensively, we moved the ball a little bit in the first quarter but didn’t get going in the second half.”
The tenner of the game changed late in the first half after UNK made one of its two fourth down stands. With the Mules ahead 14-7, sophomore end Hinwa Allieu (Gaithersburg, Md.) sacked Bolles on fourth and one from the Loper eight. However, the UCM defense forced a quick three-and-out and the Mule offense was back on the field with 2:13 remaining.
Bolles capped a quick five play, 62-yard drive with a two-yard plunge. He started the day’s scoring with a one-yard scamper at 6:19 of the first quarter. He and Bradley both scored on the same play, a fake pitch and then a run between the tackles.
With the score now 21-7 and UNK out of timeouts, the Mules pulled a fast one and lined up for an on-side kick. The Lopers and Mules both moved to the right but junior Alex Langer pooched it to the left and freshman Deven Smith managed to recover the loose ball at the Loper 36-yard line.
“That definitely was a momentum swing and the last minute was a major transition,” said Lynn. “You would’ve liked to have a timeout in that situation but we used two on critical fourth downs and then one more near the goal line. That’s a great call and executing that isn’t easy.”
This scoring drive started with 59 seconds left in the half and ended in four plays as redshirt freshman Koby Wilkerson ran for nine yards on third and three. He and Devante Turner combined for 109 yards and two TD’s on 21 carries.
UNK had two impressive first half drives, one going 42 yards in 10 plays and the other covering 71 yards in 14 plays. That second drive lasted 7:41 and saw redshirt freshman Dayton Sealey(Hastings St. Cecilia) score from three yards out with 7:04 left in the second quarter. All 14 plays were rushes with sophomore back Thomas Russell (Millard West) starting things with a 23 yard burst around the edge.
“That first drive stalled out due to a penalty but we able to convert two fourth downs and get into the end zone on the next one. We grinded it out and I was happy to see that,” said Lynn. “At that point, I thought we had some momentum but they did a good job executing the onside kick.”
However, UNK’s first six drives in the second half netted a total of 15 yards and each ended with a punt. It didn’t help the average starting field position for the Lopers in the third quarter was its own 22-yard line. Meanwhile, UCM averaged its own 43-yard line.
“Offensively, we have to go in there and manufacture a couple of first downs to dig us out of a hole and keep our defense off the field,” said Lynn. “In the second half, they gave us a look we hadn’t seen and started taking Thomas (Russell) away. We got to get other people going.”
The Mules tacked on 10 points in the third quarter and seven more in the fourth. Nine UCM players caught a pass, led by fifth-year senior receiver Jaylen Zachery (six for 55 yards). He is now the school all-time leader in receptions with 150. Zachery also had a 30-yard punt return to help setup the first TD.
Next, junior receiver Kyrion Parker had four catches for 89 yards and one TD with Bolles tallying 35 rushing yards and those two scores on eight carries. Defensively, senior Connor Flagel had a team-high 11 tackles with freshman Tyrion Taylor at nine (six solo).
Russell once again paced Kearney, tallying 72 yards on 17 carries (4.2 avg.). Sealey and junior Isaiah Brown (Dayton, Ohio) did most of the ground work in the second half and combined for 50 yards with five Lopers catching a pass. That group was led by junior receiver Blake Holtmeier(Kearney Catholic) with two for 25 yards.
Sophomore QB Steve Worthing (Elkhorn South) had an 11-yard run and was 6 of 19 in the air for 58 yards. On the other side of the ball, sophomore safety Dallas Vaughn (St. Louis) had a team-best 10 tackles with junior corner Famous McKinnon (Miami) having eight solo stops.
Finally, the Lopers ended with 10 tackles for loss and inside backers Sal Silvio (2.5) and Rakid Hill (2.0) combined for 4.5 of those. Finally, Omaha sophomore OLB Zach Sullivan had eight tackles (seven solo).
UNK heads to Central Oklahoma (2-4) next Saturday. The Bronchos fell at No. 1 NW Missouri State today, 17-10.