Story and photo courtesy of Lindenwood Athletics
In just its fourth conference game as a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), the Lindenwood offense put up one of the top passing games in the 100-year history of the league. The Lions threw for over 500 yards in a 49-28 victory over Nebraska-Kearney.
Lindenwood played nearly a flawless first half as it jumped out to a 42-7 lead by halftime. The Lions scored touchdowns on six of their first eight possessions and had 408 passing yards in the first 30 minutes. Defensively, after allowing a touchdown on the Lopers’ second possession, Lindenwood allowed just 46 yards for the rest of the half. The Lions finished the first half with a 452-181 advantage in total offense and a +2 edge in turnover margin.
The Lions big advantage on the scoreboard enabled them to attack the record books. Running back Denodus O’Bryant broke the first record with a nine-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Those points gave him 330 for his career, breaking the previous record of 329 which was held by kicker Halley Ferrell.
Wide receiver Andrew Helmick broke the next record when he finished the first half with 200 receiving yards, breaking the school’s single-game mark of 184. The old mark had been held by George Mumphard since the 2005 season. Helmick was within 54 yards of the MIAA single-game record, but he did not catch another pass in limited play in the second half.
Quarterback Ben Gomez chased school and conference passing records in the third quarter. He threw his sixth touchdown pass in the third which tied both a Lindenwood and MIAA single-game record. Former Lion quarterback Philip Staback threw six touchdowns in a game with Baker in 2010, and he was the seventh quarterback in MIAA history to throw for six touchdowns in a contest.
Also in the third quarter, Gomez set the Lindenwood single-game record with 480 passing yards, shattering the previous record of 445 which was held by Ben Kisner. He also threw had his second 400-yard passing game of his career, which ties the mark held by Kisner and Staback. His 480 yards was the third-most in the MIAA history, just 13 behind the record shared by two quarterbacks.
As a team, Lindenwood tied the school record for passing yards, had the second-most passing yards in school history, the third-most completions, and the seventh-most total offensive yards.
Helmick finished the game with two touchdowns, and other receiving touchdowns were scored by Matt Angell, Jaron Alexander, Sam Sealer, and Thomas Stubbs. Alexander had 80 receiving yards, Angell finished with 73, and O’Bryant had 68 to go along with 34 yards rushing on just four attempts.
While the offense was putting up big numbers, the defense was quietly having a solid game as well. Lindenwood was ahead by a commanding 49-7 margin until Nebraska-Kearney scored three touchdowns in the final quarter against backups.
The Lions had three turnovers with interceptions by James Wofford and Brock Reed, and a forced fumble by Xavier Warren that was recovered by Cody Fogle. Connor Harris and Jaz Granderson each had eight tackles to lead the team. Sean Gracy, Pierre Desir, and Jon McComb all had sacks, and nine players had at least one assisted tackle for a loss.