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Washburn Posts Fifth Straight Victory Over UNK

The Washburn Ichabods used some big plays and took advantage of seven turnovers to beat Nebraska-Kearney, 58-13, Thursday night at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
This was the 2013 season opener for both teams. Washburn, which finished with 520 yards of offense, has won five straight over Kearney but the Lopers still lead the all-time series, 14-8.
On “Carol Cope Day”, a crowd of 5,035 watched the ‘Bods take the opening kickoff and march 64 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. The drive featured a fourth down conversion and a 22-yard run by sophomore running back Sean McPherson.
Finishing the night with 69 yards on 11 carries, McPherson capped the season’s first drive with a seven-yard TD scamper.
The teams then traded interceptions, the second being a pick by Loper senior corner Kenny Hill (San Diego, Calif.). However, UNK fumbled on its next drive, leading to a 23-yard field goal by redshirt freshman Justin Linn.
In the second half, Linn booted field goals of 40 and 51 yards. The 51-yarder is just one yard shy of the WU record.
After back-to-back turnovers, UNK produced drives of 45 and 54 yards, respectively. But, the first ended on downs with the second being capped by a five-yard TD run by sophomore QB Bronson Marsh (Millard South). The eight play scoring drive was kept alive thanks to a fake punt as true freshmen Luke McNitt (Kearney H.S.) took the snap and rumbled 22 yards into Washburn territory.
Playing a full game for the first time in four years, Marsh went 16 of 30 for 163 yards and three INT’s. He also had team highs in carries (20) and rushing yards (79).
Washburn quickly regained the momentum as junior QB Mitch Buhler (16 of 29 for 273 yards, three TD’s and one INT) threw a 68-yard scoring strike to sophomore receiver Jordan Hart seconds after the run by Marsh.
After UNK missed a field goal late in the second quarter, the Buhler/Hart pairing worked again, this time from 55 yards out.
Now ahead 24-6, Washburn roared out of the half time locker room, scoring 20 more points thanks to a 15-yard blocked punt return for a score by linebacker Isaac Wright, those two treys by Linn and a 28-yard shovel pass from Buhler to running back Kameron Stewart.
To make it 38-6, Buhler was about to be sacked by the Loper defense but, instead, tossed the ball to Stewart, who weaved his way down the sidelines for an unlikely TD.
UNK did record a defensive TD in the fourth quarter when sophomore safety Boone Anderson (Milford), despite a cast on his arm, picked off a pass by backup QB Joel Piper and raced 26 yards for his first collegiate score.
Besides Marsh, senior back Stephan Rush (Merna) had 58 yards on 14 carries, sophomore receiver Nate Burns (Lakewood, Colo.) had six catches for 50 yards and sophomore receiver Austin Smith (Aurora) had three receptions for 54 yards.
Washburn, finishing with 352 yards in the air and another 168 on the ground, saw Hart end with 150 yards on just three catches. Overall, 10 different ‘Bods caught a pass.
From his box safety spot, Columbus sophomore Dillon Loschen had nine tackles, Sargent redshirt freshmen backer Tyke Kozeal had eight with Grand Island senior backer Kellen Werner making six, 1.5 coming behind the line of scrimmage.
Kozeal also forced, and then recovered, a fumble.
UNK is at Emporia State next Thursday night. The Hornets won at Fort Hays State, 43-13, in their opener. Last year in Kearney, a veteran ESU squad posted a 58-23 victory.