Lessons in loss for Lopers

UNK running back Thomas Russell (25) breaks a tackle to score a touchdown versus Emporia State on Sept. 7, 2017 (KHGI)

UNK football began the season with a victory for the first time since the Lopers joined the MIAA. Optimism in Loper nation was high, and then reality set in. UNK had to hit the road and face a top 25 Emporia State.

The Lopers found themselves down 14–0 with eight and change left in the 1st quarter.

"I think you have to look at us. They got on us pretty good. The one thing about it is there's a lot of good things that came out of that game," first-year head coach Josh Lynn said.

UNK never recovered, surrendering 45 points and 520 yards in the process - a stark contrast to the Lope show's performance in the opener against Missouri Western.

The loss to the Hornets now serves as a learning tool for the rest of the season.

"What we're doing is focusing on us this week. We're trying to get better at fundamental tackling and getting ready for a very good Northwest football team," Lynn added.

Nothing easy in the MIAA when you’re at the bottom of the conference looking up. Somehow, UNK drawing the short straw this year by facing two of the nation’s best teams in back-to-back games during week two and three of the season.

"You've got to step across them some time so why not get it out of the way early," Lynn states. "Whenever you play them it doesn't matter. It'll be good to get it out of the way."

Ever the optimists, the Lopers are embracing this almost insurmountable challenge.

"I think the MIAA is such a good conference where you have so many good teams every week," said linebacker Ty Botsford. " I think it's awesome you get to play the two best teams in the first two to three weeks because you get out to a good start and you see the best teams and you're off to the grind. There's nothing we'd want different than to have the two best teams in the nation coming to play us."

The 'Cats are headed to Kearney this Saturday for a 2 p.m. kick-off as owners of the last two Division II national championships and currently on the nation's longest winning streak at 32 games.

UNK is without wide receiver Jack Lydiatt and linebacker Rakid Hill as both are recovering from injuries suffered earlier this season.

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