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Kearney, Neb. – Senior running back Calen Campbell scored with 1:33 left and the Lindenwood Lions survived a “Hail Mary” to edge Nebraska Kearney, 35-31, Saturday afternoon in Saint Charles, Mo.
LWU improves to 3-6 and beats UNK (3-6) for a third straight season. Since joining the MIAA in 2013, the Lopers have yet to win at Lindenwood (0-3). UNK rallied from a 28-16 second half deficit to grab a 31-28 lead with just over eight minutes remaining. After the defense held, the Loper offense picked up a first down but, with the Lions using all three of its timeouts, were forced to punt with just over two minutes remaining.
The Lions managed to block the rugby-style attempt by redshirt freshman Grant Buschkoetter (Kearney Catholic) and that set them up at the Loper 16-yard line. A 5-9, 185 pound senior, Campbell ran for nine and then seven yards to give his team the lead.
Kearney still had one timeout left and the offense quickly worked its way down the field. A pass interference call and a 19-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Steve Worthing (Elkhorn South) to redshirt freshman running back Dayton Sealey (Hastings St. Cecilia) moved the ball all the way to the LWU 18-yard line with 30 seconds remaining.
Lindenwood sniffed out a run by Sealey on first down and UNK was forced to call its last timeout. After an incompletion in the end zone, junior tackle Jonathan Harris sacked Worthing for a nine-yard loss. The Loper offense managed to get to the line of scrimmage and Worthing, scrambling around, tossed about a 40-yard pass into the end zone. It fell into a gaggle of Loper and Lions and harmlessly to the ground.
For a second straight season, UNK out gained LWU but lost. The Lopers managed a 386-378 yard advantage as well as having the ball 13 more minutes (36:58-23:02). Campbell rushed 15 times for 107 yards (7.1 avg.) and two scores with Lincoln redshirt junior QB Najee Jackson going 16 of 34 for 160 yards, one TD and three interceptions. True freshman receiver Kai Collier gave UNK fits all day, finishing with five catches for 155 yards and two TD’s.
To start the second half, LWU went deep in the play book as junior tight end Mason Bendigo tossed a 68-yard scoring strike to Collins. Bendigo was a QB last season and his wide-open TD toss gave LWU a 21-16 lead.
After a three-and-out, the Lions marched 76 yards in nine plays to take a 28-16 lead. Campbell ran 18 yards on third and five for his first score of the day. LWU finished 6 of 16 on third down and 3 of 4 on fourth down.
The Lopers responded later in the third quarter when Worthing hit Sealey for a 38-yard scoring strike. While the Lions picked off Worthing two times after this score, UNK countered when junior outside backer Cliffond Taylor (Miami) recovered a Campbell fumble at the Loper 24-yard line with just under 13 minute remaining.
A nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive followed and featured a successful fake punt by sophomore end Hinwa Allieu (Gaithersburg, Md.). Facing a fourth and two from its own 33-yard line, UNK snapped the ball to far left punt protector Allieu, who ran a five yards for a first down with about seven minutes left. The drive ended with a Sealey six-yard scoring run. Kearney had to go for two as an earlier PAT was missed and Worthing ran for the two points.
A sack by sophomore nose guard Jordan Ingraham (Miami) with about four minutes left forced LWU to punt from the Loper 36-yard line and set up the final frantic few minutes.
Returning home, graduate transfer and now running back Darrien Daniels ran 24 times for 122 yards and a score. He also was one of 10 Loper to catch a ball from Worthing, finishing with two for 14 yards.
UNK tallied 220 rushing yards on 49 carries (4.5 avg.) with Worthing having 55 yards and Sealley 33. In the air, Worthing was 19 of 32 for 166 yards, one TD and those two INT’s. His security blanket was junior tight end Alex Harms (North Platte), who had a team-best four catches for 21 yards.
Besides Collier and Campbell, senior receiver Kendall Sparks had five catches for 26 yards for LWU with senior back Shakeem Wharton having nine carries for 41 yards.
Defensively, sophomore inside backer Sal Silvio (Kansas City) again led the Blue & Gold in tackles, this time having 11 (five solo). His total included one TFL and he had a QB hurry as well.
Next, safeties Vance Johnson (Salina, Kan.) and Dallas Vaughn (St. Louis) had picks as did junior corner Malik Webb (Roper, N.C.). Finally, Vaughn had five solo tackles with Taylor and junior corner Famous McKinnon (Miami) having four apiece.
Lindenwood senior safety Ace Rogers made a game-high 19 tackles (14 solo).
UNK hosts Pittsburg State (5-4) next Saturday. The Goriallas stunned top-ranked NW Missouri State today, 20-10, ending the Bearcats 38-game winning streak.