#18 Tigers Pounce on Riverhawks



On Saturday, September 23, the Fort Hays State Tiger football team hosted the Northeastern State Riverhawks. The MIAA matchup featured two teams headed in opposite directions. Entering Saturday, the Riverhawks were 0-3 and their opponents averaged nearly 50 points per game against them. On the other hand, the Tigers were 3-0 and were ranked #18 in the nation.

Fort Hays set the tone early. On the Tigers first drive of the game, running back Kenneth Iheme was able to continue his strong start to the season. Iheme ran the ball in from a yard out to give FHSU an early lead. After NSU struggled to get the ball moving, the Tigers regained possession. In the following minutes, Brandon Brown drilled a 54-yard field goal. Brown’s field goal was the third longest in FHSU history.

The second quarter was once again dominated by the Tigers. Quarterback Jacob Mezera was able to showcase his receivers abilities while having close to one hundred passing yards in the quarter. Halfway through the quarter, Mezera found Drew Kite for a 4-yard touchdown reception. In the ensuing minutes, the Tigers forced the Riverhawks to punt and were ready to drive again. The consistent Tigers offense was able to drive the ball down the field for a second straight possession. Mezera found Kite for his second touchdown of the quarter. The drive covered 75 yards in 12 plays, taking just over five minutes.

The Riverhawks were looking for answers, but failed to capitalize. In the closing minutes of the first half, defensive back Doyin Jibowu intercepted Dom McKinzy for the Tigers first interception of the season. Fort Hays decided to play it safe to end the first half. Going into the locker room, the Tigers led 24-0.

The beginning of the second half had a far different outcome for both teams. On the Tigers opening possession, Mezera’s pass was picked off by D’Kameron White deep in FHSU territory. The turnover resulted in a 6 play, 20-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown reception by Zac King. Less than four minutes in the second half went by and the Riverhawks were finally on the board.

Luckily for the Tigers, their offense was able to get back on track shortly after. Near the end of the third quarter, Iheme found the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game. This time, Iheme ran the ball in from 30 yards out and gave the Tigers a 31-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter featured few scoring opportunities. NSU attempted a 54-yard field goal, but Sheldon Schmidt blocked the kick and Connor Shedeed recovered it. The Tigers would go on to win, 31-7, and improve to 4-0 on the season.

Overall, the Tigers had 427 total yards of offense compared to 184 by the Riverhawks. On Saturday, the Tigers offense continued to shine. Mezera showed his early season success, completing 21 of 28 pass attempts to go along with 212 yards and two touchdowns. Iheme also had a huge afternoon, with 95 rushing yards while only playing three quarters. FHSU’s offense is averaging over 36 points per game on the season.

For the defense, Jose Delgado led the way with nine tackles. Jibowu had seven tackles of his own. The Tigers defense has only allowed 44 points through four games. Fort Hays forced the Riverhawks to go 5 for 17 on third down. NSU also punted nine times on the afternoon.

The win marked the fourth straight victory for the Tigers over the Riverhawks. NSU’s last victory against Fort Hays State was in October of 1990.

Next week, the Tigers will travel to St. Charles, Missouri to face the Lindenwood Lions. Lindenwood is currently 1-2 on the season. Fort Hays defeated the Lions, 37-6, a season ago.  

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