By RICK PETERSON
A solid defensive performance, particularly in the second half, gave Washburn University football a chance Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney, but the Ichabods were unable to take advantage of their opportunities in a 21-13 MIAA loss at Yager Stadium.
Washburn, which suffered its first loss of the season, held Nebraska-Kearney scoreless in the second half after falling behind 21-3, but the Ichabods never led on the afternoon, falling to 2-1 overall and 2-1 in the MIAA.
"I thought we played pretty well defensively,'' Washburn standout senior linebacker Grant Bruner said. "I'm disappointed, but it just wasn't our day today.
"But I like how we fought. We fought to the end.''
An early interception from Peyton Lane gave Washburn a scoring chance, but the Ichabods failed to convert on a fourth-down play and the Lopers took advantage, taking a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard touchdown pass from TJ Davis to AJ McPhee at the 8:54 mark of the opening quarter.
Washburn cut into Nebraka-Kearney's lead with a 38-yard field goal from Kameron Lake (6:40), but the Lopers scored the next two touchdowns -- an 18-yard TD pass from Davis to Zorian Stanton and a 9-yard Davis run -- to go up by 18 points with 5:04 left in the first half.
The Ichabods cut their halftime deficit to 21-6 with a 22-yard Lake field goal and scored their lone touchdown of the day early in the third quater on a 1-yard Hunter Browning run, but that would end the scoring for both teamss.
The teams traded punts ending the third quarter and on the third play of the fourth quarter, UNK fumbled heading into the end zone on a forced fumble by Jordan Finnesy returning the ball to the Ichabods with 13:31 to go in the game after a review confirmed the call.
However, the ichabods were forced to punt and then again the teams went back and forth with punts before the Lopers kept the ball for the final 7:00 of the game as UNK converted three third downs and a fourth-down conversion to run out the clock ending the game, snapping the Ichabods eight-game winning streak in Yager Stadium.
Washburn was outgained by the Lopers 375 to 247 in the game as the Lopers rushed the ball for 243 yards compared to 102 for the Ichabods.
"Offensively we just couldn't keep the pressure on them, and that's unusual it seems like for us,'' Washburn coach Craig Schurig said. "It was kind of frustrating that we couldn't put back to back first downs together and stuff like that. I thought our defense played well.''
Taylon Peters had 70 yards on the ground for the Ichabods on 18 carries and Kellen Simoncic was 19 of 37 for 145 yards. James Letcher Jr. had six catches for 60 yards.
Bruner had 11 tackles to lead the Ichabods and Landen Urban had six tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss.
Davis had 74 yards rushing and 132 in the air for the Lopers.
NEBRASKA-KEARNEY 21, WASHBURN 13
Nebraska-Kearney (2-1, 2-1) 14 7 0 0 -- 21
Washburn (2-1, 2-1) 3 3 7 0 -- 13
Nebraska-Kearney -- McPhee 27 pass from Davis (Gonzalez kick), 8:54
Washburn -- Lake 38 FG, 6:40
Nebraska-Kearney -- Stanton 18 pass from Davis (Gonzalez kick), 4:31
Nebraska-Kearney -- Davis 9 run (Gonzalez kick), 5:04
Washburn -- Lake 22 FG, 0:00
Washburn -- Browning 1 run (Lake kick), 8:29
Rushing -- Nebraska-Kearney: Davis 22-74, Schawang 7-73, Cearns 10-60, Torres 3-30, Jackson 3-7, Joseph 1-0, Team 1-(minus)-1. Washburn: Peters 18-70, Browning 6-15, Letcher 2-10, Simoncic 6-7.
Passing -- Nebraska-Kearney: Davis 8-13-1, 132 yards. Washburn: Simoncic 19-37-0, 145.
Receiving -- Nebraska-Kearney: McPhee 2-61, Torres 2-20, Stanton 1-18, Schawang 1-15, Ceans 1-10, Thompson 1-8. Washburn: Letcher 6-60, Wilson 4-29, Browning 3-20, Afful 2-15, Peters 2-6, Pivarnik 1-11, Simmons 1-4.
Punting -- Nebraska-Kearney: Kraus 3-45.0. Washburn: Zeller 3-48.0; Wilhelm 2-45.5.
Tackles -- Nebraska-Kearney: Mosley 8 solo-6 assists-14 total. Washburn: Bruner 6-5-11.
Attendance -- 6,321.