Coming off a topsy, turvy game that was riddled with turnovers and penalties, but somehow resulted in a last-minute, come-from-behind victory over Glenville State, the Lindenwood University offense delivered one of the most profilic performances in school and MIAA history on Saturday, totaling 616 yards and more than 500 passing yards in a 49-28 bombardment of visiting Nebraska-Kearney.
The Lions, who are now 4-1 on the year, set season-bests in nearly every offensive category, including yards per rush, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, yards per pass, total offense, yards per play, points, and first downs.
“It was really fun to watch our offense today,” LU head coach Patrick Ross said. “They really came out and executed early. I wished we’d finish it a little better. We gave up some cheap touchdowns at the end. But overall, the offense looked real good today.”
Real good indeed, as quarterback Ben Gomez led the Lion attack by completing 27-of-45 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns.
The yardage and touchdown totals set new school records for Gomez, who fell just 13 yards and one touchdown shy of setting new MIAA league records.
“I didn’t even know how close I was until somebody just told me,” Gomez said, with a smile. “It was a real fun day. I don’t really look at records or anything, but it is cool to have.”
And he wasn’t the only one.
Senior running back Denodus O’Bryant scored a touchdown early in the second quarter to give Lindenwood a 21-7 lead.
But that score also gave him 330 points scored in his career, which is the most ever in Lindenwood history, passing former kicker Halley Ferrell, who had 329 points in his career.
Wide receiver Andrew Helmick also set a new record on Saturday, with six catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
The 200 receiving yards for Helmick is the most ever by a Lindenwood receiver, and fell just 57 yards shy of the MIAA all-time single-game record.
“I’m pretty excited,” Helmick said. “This was a lot of fun. (UNK) are some big, physical hitters, but we knew we had an advantage with our speed. So we felt like we could get behind them, and make some plays in the passing game.”
Helmick and company made plays all day, as Lindenwood scored touchdowns on six of its first eight possessions of the game to build a 42-7 lead at halftime.
Helmick got it all started with a 26-yard scoring strike on Lindenwood’s first possession, that along with James Neal’s PAT, made the score 7-0.
Then after Thomas Stubbs caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Gomez, and O’Bryant registered his record-breaking score from 9 yards out, Helmick made the play of the day, when he blazed right through the UNK defense for a 62-yard touchdown bomb from Gomez
“He’s just really good man,” Gomez said. “On that long touchdown, it was funny, as he was running toward the end zone, I was running too. And I was screaming ‘you’re not gonna catch him.’ He’s just too fast man. It’s just awesome to have a guy like him out there catching passes for you.”
Gomez’s other touchdowns went to Sam Sealer, Jaron Alexander, and Matt Angell, tying the California native with LU all-time great Philip Staback, who three six TDs in a game against Baker in 2010.
The previous receiving record was held by George Mumphard, who had 184 yards in a game in 2005.
Angell’s touchdown made the score 49-7 late in the third, and by the beginning of the fourth, Ross had pulled all his starters.
UNK made some changes too, the main one being at quarterback when backup Sean Flanagan came in and looked mighty good against Lindenwood’s second and third string.
Flanagan ran for two touchdowns, threw for another, and a two-point conversion to account for UNK’s final 21 points.
After playing four straight at home, Lindenwood’s next two games will be on the road — both in the state of Kansas — as the Lions will travel to Hays, Kan., next week for a game against Fort Hays State.
Then in two weeks, LU will travel to Emporia, Kan., for a matchup against current conference unbeaten, Emporia State.
Lindenwood’s next home game is set for Saturday, October 20, when the Lions will host their Homecoming game against Washburn.
Score by Quarters … 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 — Final
Nebraska-Kearney …. 7 … 0 … 0 .. 21 — 28
Lindenwood …………. 14 . 28 .. 7 … 0 — 49
LU – Andrew Helmick 26 yd pass from Ben Gomez (James Neal kick) — 11:49 … 0-7
LU – Thomas Stubbs 23 yd pass from Ben Gomez (James Neal kick) — 6:12 ….. 0-14
UNK – Cody Anthony 25 yd run (Drew Farlee kick) — 2:27 ………………………….. 7-14
LU – Denodus O’Bryant 9 yd run (James Neal kick) — 14:17 …………………………. 7-21
LU – Andrew Helmick 62 yd pass from Ben Gomez (James Neal kick) — 9:07 … 7-28
LU – Sam Sealer 10 yd pass from Ben Gomez (James Neal kick) — 5:48 …………. 7-35
LU – Jaron Alexander 37 yd pass from Ben Gomez (James Neal kick) — 1:34 … 7-42
LU – Matt Angell fumble recovery in end zone (James Neal kick) — 3:30 ……….. 7-49
UNK – Sean Flanagan 3 yd run (Drew Farlee kick) — 13:40 ………………………….. 14-49
UNK – Austin Smith 5 yd pass from Sean Flanagan (pass failed) — 5:51 ………… 21-49
UNK – Sean Flanagan 2 yd run (Stephan Rush pass from Sean Flanagan) — :39 ….. 28-49