BY MAKENNA ALLEN
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the FHSU Tigers successfully “Defended The Fort” at Lewis Field Stadium as they defeated the Lindenwood University Lions 27-14 in their ninth game of the season. FHSU dominated Lindenwood in the seventh game of the series between the two teams that began in 2012. This is not an unusual occurrence as the Tigers hold six victories in the series to the Lions’ one victory. The game also marked the last time the two schools would face off as MIAA foes.
The first touchdown of the game came during the Tigers’ first drive was a 28-yard completion from quarterback Jacob Mezera to running back DJ Hickman. However, after Mezera left the game due to a potential injury, backup quarterback Chance Fuller made his own contribution to the game.
Each game, Tigers’ Head Coach Chris Brown has been sending Fuller in during the team’s third possession of the quarter. However, the redshirt freshman had an opportunity to shine against the Lindenwood Lions.
“It’s more of a give a kid a chance. Jacob was a little banged up. We weren’t quite sure what it was. We didn’t know if it was his head. We didn’t know if it was his ribs. It was precautionary as well,” said Brown.
Ultimately, Fuller’s work allowed the Tigers to put points on the board during the first three quarters of what Brown felt was Fuller’s best game.
“He did a good job coming in command of the offense and getting some point and extending plays and hitting his check downs and making things happen,” said Brown. “I thought Chance played really well today and we know he’s a good football player and we know he can make the right reads. He’s quick with his decisions and if it’s not there with one side, he’s able to get back to the other side and make things happen.”
After the Lions tied up the score of the first quarter with quarterback Cade Brister’s 18-yard touchdown pass, Fuller completed two long passes up the middle to wide receiver Layne Bieberle that put the Tigers in field goal range. Dante Brown secured the 28-yd field goal that took the Tigers to the end of the first quarter, leading 10-7.
The second quarter progressed slowly until Fuller completed a 56-yard pass to Andrew Jay. Running back Charles Tigner was credited with a touchdown after driving 3-yards into the end-zone.
Even after the Lions started out the third quarter a Brister 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Najee Jackson, Fuller’s impact continued. With two minutes left in the quarter, he completed a 46-yard pass to Hickman in the end zone, advancing the Tigers’ lead to 27-14.
Overall, Brown felt that Fuller’s success on the field is something upon which the team should capitalize.
“I’m very pleased with the way he played today. We’ve got to keep using him,” said Brown. “The better he gets and the more he does, he’s going to continue to help us win ball games.”
Even as Brown prepares for Fuller’s future with the team, he focuses upon the next two games of the regular season against Northwest Missouri State University and Northeastern State University. In order to progress to the playoffs, the Tigers must secure victories in both games.
“It’s huge. Our kids need to understand that and I think they do understand that. Our backs are really against the wall still and this is a big game. We went down there last year on senior day and we beat them so Northwest is going to be prepared and they’re going to be ready for us,” said Brown. “So this week, we’ve really got to focus in on watching a lot of film, understanding what they’re doing to us offensively and defensively. We’ve got to get there on special teams still and really lock into making ourselves a better football team.”
With these goals in mind, Brown celebrated the game that allowed him to break Fort Hays State school history with the most victories of any football coach. Brown’s 56th win with the team allowed him to surpass the record previously held by Bob Cortese.
Brown took time to thank God and his family as well as his team, coaching staff, and the administration that gave him a chance at Fort Hays.
“It feels pretty good but it’s a team effort and it’s a family effort and it’s God blessing me with many gifts,” said Brown.
Next week, as the Tigers take on the #11 Northwest Missouri State Bearcats in Maryville, Missouri with hopes of Brown’s 57th victory. A victory would pull the Tigers into a tie atop the MIAA standings. First kick is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.