Running back Alfred Grear got things going with a 63-yard touchdown on the opener, and the Angelo State University football team beat No.21 Nebraska-Kearney 20-7 in a NCAA Division II second round game at LeGrand Stadium. at 1st Community Credit Union Field on Saturday afternoon.
ASU improved to 11-2 after pushing their winning streak to seven games, and the Rams clinched their ticket to the quarterfinals. They will face the Colorado School of Mines on the road next Saturday in Golden, Colorado.
This is the first time since 1989 that ASU has qualified for the national quarter-finals. The Rams lost in the semifinals 32 years ago.
Nebraska-Kearney finished 10-3.
“I’m so proud of the guys for the way they played on both sides of the ball and in the special teams,” said ASU head coach Jeff Girsch. “We were pretty good on special teams minus whoever dropped a punt. We talked about this team and what it was about.
“We played our best football at the end of the season and we continue to do that and it shows. And we have some great leaders, guys who accepted when we took over the program at the end of 2018. We tell these guys : “If you stay and keep working hard and doing what we ask you to do, you’re going to play in big-scale games,” and we’re at that point right now. “
It was a scoreless game before Grear scored on the long TD at 7:48 of the second quarter.
“I was just happy to have the opportunity,” said Grear. “Coach (Kevin) Kilmer, he called the offense and I’m happy he gave me the opportunity to carry the boulder and the linemen did their job and everything I had to to do was finish the race. “
In last week’s playoff opener against Minnesota-Duluth, Grear returned the opening kickoff for 100 yards.
Grear had a record 152 rushing yards in 16 carries. CJ Odom added 12 for 48.
Nate Omayebu, the leading rusher of the Lone Star Conference, was limited to four carries for 37 yards. He was injured at first, but seemed to be doing well on the sidelines.
Asa Fuller kicked 24 and 45 yards to give the Rams a 13-0 halftime advantage.
The Rams went 20-0 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Bronkhorst to tight end Dagen Dunham with 11:31 left in the third.
The Lopers blocked a shutout with a 5-yard touchdown from Dayton Sealey at 6:21 of the third.
ASU finished with a total of 424 offensive yards, including 252 rushing.
Unlike last week’s game against Minnesota-Duluth when the Rams jumped to 41-0 at halftime, Saturday’s showdown against the Lopers was more of a defensive battle.
“Today’s game was no different than I expected,” said the Rams coach. “I knew it would be a physical football game. Kearney is a very physical football team and the quarterback (Harlon Hill nominee TJ Davis) is, I think, an exceptional player, but we have done great things for him. today to limit its opportunities. “
Bronkhorst completed 15 of 30 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He was kidnapped once.
Davis was limited to 9 of 22 passes for 86 yards. He had 16 carries for 12 yards, as the Rams defense tackled him for a total loss of 29 yards.
ASU is one of eight teams still playing in the D-II ranks.
“Man, that says it all,” said senior linebacker Josh Quinton. “I’m really proud of these guys. I’m proud of Coach Girsch, I’m proud of Alfred and all the guys in the locker room, man.
“As the coach said, it all started in 2018 and to see it come to fruition is truly a blessing. It means the world.”
Nebraska-Kearney’s remarkable turnaround this season won’t be defined by Saturday’s loss at the end of the season.
“It was pretty amazing to take a group that four years ago had won a game in the previous 22 and then that group come and do what they did, I’m proud of them,” NKU head coach Josh Lynn said. . “I am proud of the effort and proud of the rebuilding. Loper football will be back.”
As the Lopers coach pointed out, it would have been a one-point game without Grear’s long TD in the second quarter.
Lynn thought his defense was good for the most part, but the Lopers couldn’t find an attacking rhythm.
In their final series of the game, the Lopers drove to the Rams ’34-yard line and flirted with a one-point out, but Davis’ pass fell incomplete in the fourths and -18s.
“Give Angelo State credit,” said Lynn, a former head coach from eastern New Mexico who was attending the same conference with the Rams. “Defensively they had a good plan. They won some big games.”
Charles Bryce is a sports reporter covering West Texas. Send him a tip at [email protected] Consider supporting West Texas journalism with a subscription to GoSanAngelo.com.
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: Angelo State hits ticket to Division II quarter-finals