Lopers pull away from ‘Pokes

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By Dave Kavanaugh

The 12th ranked team in NCAA Division II football, Nebraska-Kearney won its 16th consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season football game Saturday at the expense of visiting New Mexico Highlands.

The Cowboys played fairly close much of the game, but the Lopers, aided by a couple of key turnovers, pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 38-13 final.

NMHU (1-7, 1-5 RMAC) trailed just 21-13 at halftime and 24-13 to start the final period.

Ethan Kuhlmann picked off Jordan Mendoza to start the quarter, running back to the NMHU 1-yard line. Brendan Liess punched in from there.

Then after shutting down the Cowboy offense the next series, the Lopers blocked a Vicente Gonzales punt and Eli Hammond returned it for a touchdown.

At 7-1 and 6-0 with three games left, UNK is in prime position to win the RMAC title.

Mendoza finished 21 of 32 for 217 yards. In the first half, he connected with Kevon Williams on a 71-yard bomb but instead of finishing in the end zone, NMHU was held to a field goal by Ernesto Guerra.

Guerra made two field goals in the first half, and Isaac Garcia’s 19-yard touchdown run 11 seconds before halftime got the Cowboys within eight.

NMHU had one of its better rush yardage totals with 113 but allowed 273. The Cowboy defense held UNK to 83 pass yards.

Williams had 13 catches for 155 yards; his season total is 49 for 617 yards.