Led by Hastings St. Cecilia grad Dayton Sealey, Lopers passing tests with strong ground game

Four Lopers have at least 335 yards rushing, including Dayton Sealey, as UNK (4-2) averages 337.3 yards rushing per game, second best in NCAA Division II. 

Dayton Sealey admits it wasn’t a thing of beauty. But the objective was met, and that was all that mattered.

With UNK facing a fourth-and-5 in the first quarter last Saturday, the 205-pound running back pulled up and threw to Aubrey Marschel-Parker for a 33-yard gain to Lincoln’s 5-yard line. Two plays later, the Lopers scored their first touchdown en route to a 44-0 win.

The Hastings St. Cecilia grad said that was probably his first pass in a game since midget football.

“It looked a lot better in practice. It wasn’t quite a spiral,” Sealey said. “But it got there, and the receiver made a good catch.”

The Lopers spent a majority of that day moving the ball on the ground. In the final 11 minutes of the first half, UNK rushed 18 times for 244 yards — eight of those carries went for more than 10 yards.

That included a 71-yard touchdown run by Sealey, who finished with a career-best 138 yards on seven carries. He also caught two passes for 49 yards.

“He’s very versatile,” Loper coach Josh Lynn said. “We use him as a blocker, as an H-back. Pound for pound, he’s a good back.”

Sealey is just one of UNK’s productive backs. Four Lopers have at least 335 yards rushing as UNK (4-2) averages 337.3 yards rushing per game, second best in NCAA Division II.

The only team with more? The 378.5 yards by Eastern New Mexico, which is where Lynn coached before coming to Kearney three years ago. Eastern New Mexico runs the triple option while UNK is more zone-read out of the shotgun.

David Goodwin has rushed for 509 yards while averaging 10.4 yards a carry, quarterback TJ Davis has 403, Sealey 396 and Darrius Webb, who was just shy of 1,000 yards a year ago, has 335.

They run behind a line made up of local players who Lynn calls “a staple of football in Nebraska.” The line includes Omaha Creighton Prep’s Jack McLeay and Josh Stoltenberg, Valentine’s Kooper Reece, Lexington’s Kolin Kenton and Giltner’s Corey Hoelck.

“The line is our most veteran group,” Sealey said. “Most of them have been here for multiple coaches, there’s fifth-year seniors. They’re invested in what they’re doing.”

UNK needs two more victories for its first winning season since 2011. But with five regular-season games left, the schedule gets tougher. Its next four opponents are a combined 20-4, beginning with Saturday’s 2 p.m. home game against No. 7 Northwest Missouri State.

The Bearcats (6-0) allow 75.5 yards rushing per game.

“Controlling the line of scrimmage is so important against them,” Lynn said. “Northwest is very well coached. The defense does the same thing over and over and over each year. They just don’t make mistakes.”

Northwest’s offense is triggered by quarterback Braden Wright. The second-year starter from Elkhorn South rushed for a career-high 172 yards last week. Three weeks ago, Wright threw for a career-best 305 yards against Central Oklahoma.

The Bearcats average 46.7 points per game, sixth best in D-II.

Other midland games

Texas Permian Basin (2-4) at Chadron State (2-4), noon MDT: Chadron snapped a four-game skid last week, rallying from a 16-point deficit to beat Adams State 42-23. 

Northern State (3-3) at Wayne State (2-4), 1 p.m.: These two teams lean on defense. Wayne averages 18.3 points a game and Northern averages 14.8. Wayne was held to 104 yards of offense last week in a 21-7 loss to Duluth.

Dakota Wesleyan (1-6) at Midland (2-4), 1: Midland broke a four-game skid last week by amassing 667 total yards, a school record. Omaha Roncalli grad Noah Oswald threw for 304 yards and accounted for seven TDs. 

Northwestern (5-0) at Concordia (3-3), 1: Jake Kemp threw for 296 yards and three TDs in rallying Concordia to a win last week, but the Bulldogs face a tough challenge in No. 6 Northwestern, fourth in the NAIA in scoring defense (10.2 per game).

Dordt (3-3) at Doane (4-3), 1: Doane has won three straight, including last week when Jamaine Derogene scored the winning TD with eight seconds left. 

Jamestown (1-6) at Morningside (5-0), 1: Omaha Burke grad Arnijae Ponder went over the 3,000-yard career rushing mark last week, while Joe Dolincheck is completing 71% of his passes for 1,626 yards.

Coe (4-2) at Nebraska Wesleyan (3-2), 1: Wesleyan’s Jonathan Curti has thrown for 1,500 yards and 18 TDs.

Peru State (0-6) at Clarke (0-6), 1: After a bye week following a tough first-half schedule, Peru seeks its first win. Peru hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a game.

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