Kearney, Neb. – The 16th and 21st-ranked Nebraska-Kearney football team begins a two-game road swing this Saturday with a trip to Central Missouri.
UNK (3-0) is unbeaten with the Mules (0-3) winless. However, UCM has won seven-straight in the series, averaging a healthy 44 points during this stretch. Thanks to this consistent output Central holds a 9-2 series edge.
The Lopers last win in the series came back in 2012, the year the program had to use seven different quarterbacks due to injury. Wide receiver turned QB Matt Berry guided a Loper offense that ran for 332 yards, and threw for 25, in a 24-18 win in Warrensburg. The Kearney “D” came up big as it held UCM to -31 rushing yards.
No one will soon forget the 2019 game between these two at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium. The Mules won 47-40 after blocking a 30-yard field goal and then throwing a 63-yard “Hail Mary” with seconds remaining. UNK led 40-30 five minutes earlier but a 50-yard touchdown reception on fourth down started the UCM comeback. In all the teams combined for 87 points, 1,127 yards offense, four turnovers, three missed PAT’s and a series of highlight-level plays.
UNK comes into this game with one of only seven players in college football to date with at least 500 yards rushing. QB TJ Davis (Colorado Springs) ranks seventh among that group with 502 yards, third best in NCAA Division II. Five-eight back Joey Mauriello of D3 Salve Regina (R.I.) leads the NCAA and NAIA in rushing with a solid 558 yards.
Running behind a veteran line, Davis has amassed 1,879 yards and 30 rushing scores in only 17 career games. He’s about to become the 11th Loper to reach 2,000 career rushing yards and needs just nine more rushing TD’s to set a new Loper standard. The only team really to limit him in 13 career starts is the Mules; 23 carries for 43 yards and one TD in 2019.
In the air, Davis is completing 64% of his passes with 12 different players having a reception. Redshirt junior receivers Cody Nelson (Albion) and Michael Koch (Columbus) have been the top targets with receiver turned back Montrez Jackson (Trenton, Fla.) second on UNK in rushing yards (105) and third in receiving yards (96). Finally on offense, Kearney has scored over half its 92 points in the fourth quarter while ranking first in the MIAA in seven different categories.