PITTSBURG, Kan. — Quarterback TJ Davis threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and the University of Nebraska at Kearney defense shut down 23rd-ranked Pittsburg State in the second half as the Lopers prevailed, 28-17, Saturday night.
The Lopers (2-0), who are riding a five-game winning streak dating back to 2019, took advantage of three turnovers to win for the second straight year in “The Jungle,” Pittsburg State’s stadium.
“Defensively, the turnovers were big. We knew going in our secondary had to play well,” UNK head coach Josh Lynn said on the The River 93.1 FM radio postgame show. “We got beat with a flea flicker (in the first half) but our corners, without a starter, played extremely well.
“Gabriel Amegatcher had a great performance tonight. ... Atoa Fox had a great performance tonight. It was a good team effort but the defense really stepped up.”
The offense went to the air as Davis tossed scoring passes of 15, 30 and 44 yards. He finished 11 of 17 for 198 yards. Davis secured the win with a 3-yard scoring run on third down with three minutes left.
Pitt finished 7 of 15 on third down and was held to 182 yards in the second half.
Down 17-7 at the half, UNK marched 67 yards in nine plays on its first possession of the second half. The touchdown came on a 30-yard strike from Davis to junior Michael Koch.
The Lopers took the lead for good after Amegatcher picked off Pitt quarterback Mak Sexton at the Loper 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter. A seven-play, 95-yard drive featured completions of 17 and 22 yards, respectively, with senior receiver-turned-running back Montrez Jackson breaking wide open for a 44-yard scoring catch at the 10:56 mark.
“We’ve never been known as a passing team but our line and receivers did a good job in the second half,” Lynn said.
The Gorillas drove into UNK territory on their next drive but the UNK defense held on fourth-and-2 as a Sexton pass fell incomplete.
An eight-play, 57-yard drive followed and a 26-yard run by Davis around the right side on third down sealed the win.
UNK finished with 199 rushing yards. Davis had his ninth 100-yard game with 105 yards. Slot receiver JerQon Conners had three pass receptions for 55 yards.
Schlager and Nutter led the defense with 12 and nine tackles, respectively, with Nutter intercepting a pass with 1:43 left to clinch the win.
For Pitt, Sexton finished 18 of 37 for 246 yards with Iowa State transfer Jalen Martin (six catches for 112 yards and one TD) his favorite target.