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UNK explodes against Western State; wins first RMAC game with 99-yard score
Clayton Kush
Antelope Staff
Photo by Garrett Ritonya
Senior Tyrone Hilton makes a move after catching a pass Saturday against Western State. The Lopers cruised for their first RMAC victory of the year.

The UNK football team quieted any doubts of a week three letdown following their huge win last weekend against UNO by scoring four first quarter touchdowns against Western State in a 45-13 win in their RMAC home opener. 

A big question coming into the game was the depth of UNK’s backfield as running back, Rustin Dring, was injured in last weekend’s game.  Those worries were calmed when UNK scored three of their four first quarter touchdowns on the ground. 

Ryan Skogg, a redshirt freshman from Highlands Ranch, Colo., pounded scores in from two and three yards out while Brandan Leiss reached the goal line from 24 yards out.  It was the second straight win for the Lopers and a great start in the RMAC Conference as they busted to a 1-0 conference record. 

The Loper's dominance continued on the other side of the ball also as the UNK defense did not give up a point until 6:41 was left in the first half. Pat Ackerman, a six-foot safety and senior captain from Holdrege said the team, “played extremely well,  and I was glad that they were able to get on top right away and continued to keep that momentum going throughout the game.” 

While leading the defense with eight tackles on the day, he knew coming in Western State would be much different offensively than any other team they had faced this year. “They had a strong run attack, and we were able to shut that down early which was a big key to our success defensively.” Ackerman said. 

Jake Spitzlberger had another solid game passing as he finished the day with 210 yards through the air, 99 of those coming on one touchdown connection with Kyle Kaiser. That 99-yard strike was the second such play in Loper history, making it the only Division II school ever to have to have two 99-yard touchdown passes.

One advantage of the Loper’s early success was that many second and third string players were able to see their first action of the season. “It was really great to see some of the younger guys come into the game and get solid game experience. Those guys really worked well together and were very pleased with the way they stepped up for us,” Ackerman said. 

The 45 points scored was the largest point total of the season and four first quarter touchdowns leave fans wondering how the team will top that when they travel to Alamosa, Colo., to play Adams State College next week. 

“Were going to need to continue to play well together, improve on both sides of the ball and cut down on some of the mistakes we are making for next week’s game,” Ackerman said.  There should be no shortage of excitement when the Lopers kick off at Adams State this Saturday, 1 p.m. Central Standard Time. UNK will be looking to improve to 3-1 on the season. “Hopefully we can keep the momentum rolling from these last two wins all season long,” Ackerman said.


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