After beginning the 2015 season with a brutal schedule which has featured four nationally-ranked opponents in its first six games, the Lindenwood University football team will get a break of sorts when the winless University of Nebraska-Kearney comes to town for LU’s Homecoming Game on Saturday.
Nebraska-Kearney (0-6) is the only team yet to win a game this season, which has seen the Lopers lose by at least 10 points in every game. But UNK does still figure to present a challenge to Lindenwood, after defeating the Lions in each of the last two seasons.
Last year, in a game in Kearney, the Lopers bested the Lions 31-13, thanks in large part to both its quarterback Bronson Marsh and starting running back Romero Cotton both rushing for 112 yards. Marsh ran for two scores and threw for two others to lead the way for UNK that day.
Lindenwood Lions 2015 Football — Gameday Preview
Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (0-6) at Lindenwood Lions (1-5)
Harlen C. Hunter Stadium — October 17, 2015 – 1:30 p.m.
After opening 2015 with a last second home win over Washburn, the Lions have dropped five straight. They are averaging 13.7 points and 269 yards per game in using two different QB’s.
Former USC Trojan and Arizona Wildcat Jessie Scroggins started the first four games, going 66-of-140 for 695 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 99 yards and two scores.
The expected starter this week is redshirt freshman Mason Bendigo. In five games played (two starts), Bendigo is 33-of-72 for 334 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Another option is sophomore Graham Lindman, who completed 21-of-42 passes for 211 yards, with no scores and no interceptions in last year’s loss at UNK.
Five different Lions have caught 10 or more balls, led seniors Greg Coble (20 recep., 224 yds., one TD) and DeSean Warren (19 recep., 241 yds.). Fellow senior Lavorrie Johnson is expected to start his fourth straight game at running back.
He currently leads Lindenwood with 252 rushing yards and two TDs this season. Johnson carried the ball 21 times for 68 yards and a score in last season’s game in Kearney.
Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (0-6)
No official depth chart listed.
Lindenwood Lions (1-5)
QB – 12 Mason Bendigo …………. DE – 51 Justin Taylor
RB – 5 Lavorrie Johnson ………… DT – 93 Chaz Fulton
WR – 2 Greg Coble …………….. DT – 95 Deshaun Lawson
WR – 18 DeSean Warren ……….. DE –98 Jonathan Harris
WR – 3 Tre’ Roby ………………. LB – 10 Steven Pace
WR – 17 Jaron Alexander ……….. LB – 16 Connor Harris
LT – 58 Alex Zendejas ………….. LB – 46 Clint Koons
LG – 73 Berry Benedick …………. DB – 8 Dante Lewis
C – 71 John Keltner ……………… DB – 1 Wesley Thomas
RG – 68 Akil Williams ………….. DB – 21 Roderick Ryles
RT – 75 Derek Gurnea …………… DB – 6 Bakari Triggs
The Lindenwood defense is unquestionably led by junior inside linebacker Connor Harris. A 2014 All-American and 2015 preseason All-American, Harris is the national NCAA Division II leader in tackles with 107 stops (53 solo) in six games.
Harris, who was selected MIAA Defensive Player of the Week (for the third time in his career) two weeks ago, after racking up 24 tackles in a game against Emporia State, followed that up with his second straight 20-plus tackle effort last week against No. 3-ranked Northwest Missouri State. Harris was officially credited with 23 tackles last week and is currently on pace to shatter the LU school record for tackles in a season.
As a group, the Lindenwood defense is allowing 37.2 points and 450.0 yards per game. Having forced three turnovers (two INT’s and a fumble), the Lions are allowing 254 yards through the air as opponents are completing 69 percent of their passes.
On special teams, starting junior corner Bakari Triggs is among the top return men in the MIAA this season, averaging 22.4 yards on 11 kick returns. Johnson (17.5) is also a threat for the Lions, with starting receiver Tre’ Roby averaging 11.1 yards on eight punt returns.
For UNK, Marsh and Romero are back to lead the offense, although the Lopers do like to also give the ball to redshirt freshman back Luke Quinn. The one-time University of Wyoming commit has carried the ball 21 times for 96 yards over the past three weeks.
On defense, the Lopers are led by junior middle linebacker Tyke Kozeal, who will come into Saturday’s game with 88 tackles (38 solo) and two quarterback sacks.
The best player in UNK’s secondary has been sophomore and native St. Louisan George Brown, who has 32 tackles and six pass breakups this season. Brown is from University City and attended University City High School in his prep days.
Upcoming Lindenwood Football Schedule
October 24 at Missouri Southern …… 2:37 p.m.*
October 31 vs. Central Missouri …… 1:30 p.m.
November 7 at Central Oklahoma …… 2 p.m.
November 14 vs. Northeastern State … 1:30 p.m.
* — denotes MIAA TV Game of the Week