FHSU Sports Information Department
On an odd Thursday night (Sept. 10) at Lewis Field Stadium in Hays, Fort Hays State endured a two-hour weather delay and overcame several miscues to escape with a 27-13 win on its home field against Northeastern State. Tied 13-13 in the fourth quarter, a 93-yard touchdown run by Shaquille Cooper with 2:19 remaining in the game proved to be the winning score, lifting the Tigers to a 2-0 start to the season.
Cooper had a monster game at running back, rushing for 263 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown – the 93-yard dash to put the Tigers in front for the first time all night. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry on the night. Cooper also collected 22 yards of receiving for a total of 285 all-purpose yards in the game. He had 195 all-purpose in week one against Central Oklahoma with 163 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards. Cooper now has 426 rushing yards in the first two games of the season, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.
Derek Kendall-Campbell was also key in the rushing game, filling in for a cramping Cooper in the third and fourth quarters when Cooper needed rest. Kendall-Campbell found the endzone twice, scoring with 10:09 remaining in the third from 10 yards out to help FHSU tie the game 13-13, then the game sealer with 1:02 remaining to push the FHSU lead to 27-13.
The Tigers chewed off 375 yards rushing as a team. Treveon Albert added to that attack with 58 yards. His arm was seldom utilized in the game, going just 6-of-14 passing for 37 yards. Andrew Flory was the top receiver with 18 yards on three catches.
Outside of the massive Tiger rushing attack, execution lacked at times as the Tigers gave away three fumbles on the night, leaving the RiverHawks in the game. But FHSU made up for it on special teams by blocking three kicks on the night. Daniel Lindsey blocked a field goal in the first quarter and Nathan Shepherd tallied two blocked kicks, one on a field goal and the other on an extra point. His blocked field goal in the fourth quarter was key to keeping the game tied with 8:34 remaining.
Northeastern State led early with a first quarter touchdown, then extended its lead to 13-3 in the second quarter. A pair of Drew O’Brien field goals (36 and 19 yards) in the first half kept the Tigers within striking distance at the break before the Tigers made their comeback in the second half.
Kevin Pantastico led Northeastern State at quarterback, throwing for 192 yards on 23-of-43 passing. Garrett Powell had 100 yards of receiving and Joel Rockmore had 86 yards on the ground for the RiverHawks.
Defensively, Tiger linebackers Brock Long and Alex Schmidtberger tied with a team-high 13 tackles. Long recorded two sacks, while Schmidtberger had 1.5 sacks. The Tigers had a total of five sacks in the game. Raheeme Dumas had a 40-yard interception late in the game.
The Tigers start 2-0 for the first time since the 2010 season. FHSU also claimed a win in a home opener for the first time since 2011. The Tigers hit the road next week for their first Saturday contest of the season at Lindenwood. Kickoff is set for 6 pm in St. Charles, Mo.