Last-second field goal dashes Bears hopes
GREELEY, Colo. – The emotion of the Northern Colorado football team went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of minutes in the season opener against Lindenwood University. With 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, sophomore kicker Dave Eden nailed a 25-yard field goal to put the Bears on top, 20-19 and seemingly lift the Bears to victory.
Eden then sent the kickoff 62 yards, but Lions junior Andrew Helmick was able to scamper back 44 yards, which eventually set up a 21-yard field goal as time expired to give Lindenwood a 22-20 win.
Northern Colorado struck first in the game as sophomore quarterback Seth Lobato hit senior running back David Deans from eight-yards out with 11:12 to play in the first quarter. The Lions made back-to-back field goals to pull within one, 7-6 but sophomore running back Quintin Hildreth scored on a nine-yard rush with 10:29 to extend the Bears lead to eight, 14-8.
The Lions scored the final touchdown of the first half, a one-yard run by Therman McGowan to make the score 14-13. Lindenwood also scored to open the third quarter, as junior Denodus O'Bryant caught a 71-yard pass from John Uribe. The team went for a two-point conversion, but the pass was long for the 19-14 score.
Eden made his first field goal of the game, a 35-yarder, with 9:19 to go to pull the Bears within two, 19-17.
"It didn't turn out exactly as we planned, but we learned some valuable things in this game," said Head Coach Earnest Collins Jr. "I kept telling everybody all week. I've been trying to reemphasize that to the players all week: that we were going to be playing Lindenwood first and not CSU. A lot of people don't understand what the different levels of football are—(and) by no means am I going to be making any excuses -- but we were playing a team that's coming from the NAIA level and coming up. They've got some weapons. Their rules are different, but they've got lots of weapons.
Hildreth led the Bears with 54 yards rushing and one touchdown in his first game for Northern Colorado after transferring from Colorado. Lobato completed 11-of-17 passes for 97 yards in the first half, before missing the second half after a hard hit on the final play of the first stanza. Senior quarterback Dylan Orms played the entire second half, completing 5-of-10 passes for 65 yards.
Senior Patrick Walker was the quarterbacks' favorite target, catching five passes for 57 yards. Both junior Chris Morris and redshirt freshmen Marcell Peoples brought in three receptions, while Deans caught two passes with one touchdown. Walker had a team-best 120 all-purpose yards, as he tacked on 55 kickoff return yards, while junior Dominic Gunn had 100 with 81 kickoff return yards, 15 punt return yards and one reception for four yards.
Junior defensive back Marcel Gibbons led all players with 12 tackles and he also forced a fumble. Junior linebacker Cameron Friend also tallied double figure stops with 10 and had one of the team's three sacks. Senior defensive back Elliott Dorsey also had the lone interception of the game, as he caught a pass that sophomore Gavin Miller tipped out of the intended receiver's hands.
"(Elliott Dorsey) was everywhere, all around the field," said Lindenwood junior running back Denodus O'Bryant. "Coach said he was going to stick on me like glue. He was way worse than glue."
Dorsey ended the afternoon with a career-high tying seven tackles to go along with his first pick.
O'Bryant paced the Lindenwood offense with 176 all-purpose yards (65 rushing, 97 receiving and 14 kickoff return). Helmick added 173 all-purpose yards (77 receiving and 99 kickoff return). Tyler Epstein led their defense with 10 tackles, while Brock Reed had one of the team's two sacks and nine stops.
"The running back (O'Bryant) is what we thought he was: A tremendous football player," said Collins. "And this, for us, our coaching staff and players, is a process. We are programming these young men's minds that we have to prepare every week -- week in, week out -- no matter who were' playing against.
"So, we'll get it fixed, we'll get it corrected, and we'll bring it in next week and get ready for CSU."
The Bears travel to instate rival Colorado State next week to face the Rams on the gridiron for the first time since 1986. Kickoff is slated for noon.