HAYS - Trailing 21-0 at halftime, Fort Hays State scored touchdowns on six-straight second possessions and rallied for an improbable 42-35 win over No. 12/15 Nebraska-Kearney in front of 6,743 Saturday night at Lewis Field. It's the first time the Tigers have won when trailing at halftime since beating UNK in two overtimes in Kearney in 2018. FHSU has won three straight and improves to 3-2 while the Lopers have their seven-game win streak snapped and drop to 4-1.
After going three and out in their first possession, UNK scored touchdowns on their next three possessions to built a 21-0 lead at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter.
The Tigers were only able to move the ball as far as the Lopers 40 yard line until their final drive of the second quarter. TIght end Hunter Budke caught a pass from Chance Fuller at the five and carried a Loper near the goal line but was stopped just short of a touchdown.
The Tigers scored their first points on their first possession of the third quarter. Chance Fuller hit Alex Schremmer for a big 36-yard gain. A 13-yard pass to Manny Ramsey was followed with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Budke.
UNK responded with a quick touchdown drive with gains of 28, 18, and 16 yards, pushing its lead back to 21.
The Tigers fired back as Fuller found Ramsey for a 21-yard gain to start the next drive. Fuller then picked up 28 yards on the ground over the next two plays. He later found Schremmer for a 17-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Lopers lead to 14.
Kearney answered again , marching 79 yards over six plays to push their lead right back to 21 with 2:54 to go in the third quarter.
Adrian Soto sparked the Tigers next scoring drive with a 47 yard kickoff return to the UNK 37 yard line. Keylan Chapman ripped off a 24-yard run to the UNK 10 then Fuller capped it with a seven-yard t0ouchdown pass to Ramsey to cut the Loper lead to 35-21 with 1:37 to go in the third.
After a three-and-out by the Tiger defense, the Tigers got the ball back at their own 46. Fuller hit Soto on a 25-yard on third down and got 15 more yards on a Loper roughing the passer penalty. Voshon Waiters then entered to throw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Budke to trim the lead to seven.
The Lopers next drive stalled near midfield and the Tigers got the ball back at their own 14e game. Soto had a run of 14-yards than hauled in a 40 yards pass to the UNK 32. Fuller hit Schremmer for 22-yards then scrambled for a nine-yard run to the one. Chapman punched the ball in from a yard out to tie the game, 35-35.
The Lopers, who had won their last two games with touchdowns in the final minute, were stopped at their own 29 on a sack by Jhimon Preston on third -and-6.
The Tigers got the ball on their own 33. Fuller found Schremmer for 14 yards then on third and three, Soto broke off a 14-yard run for a first down. Keylan Chapman's 31-yard run moved the ball to to one. He then scored his second on the next play to give the Tigers their first lead with 1:07 to play.
UNK picked up one first down on their ensuing drive, but then quarterback TJ Davis was intercepted by freshman Devin White at the FHSU 40.
It was Fort Hays State's first interception of the season and only turnover of the game.
Fuller completed 22-of-36 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns. Schremmer led Tiger with 98 receiving yards on five catches. Adrian Soto rushed for 98 yards and had another 87 through the air and finished with 307 all-purpose yards.
Jhimon Preston led the defense with 11 tackles.
UNK quarterback TJ Davis completed 12-of-15 passes for 202 yards two touchdowns. He also rushed for 96 yards and two scores. Montrez Jackson led the Lopers' with 102 rushing yards.
UNK finished with 274 rushing yards as a team. The Lopers gained 476 total yards as a team. The Tigers finished with 567 total yards.
Fort Hays State is back on the road for another key game at Washburn next week in Topeka. Both teams will enter the game 3-2 overall. Kickoff is set for 1 pm at Yager Stadium.