HAYS, Kan. (FHSU) - Fort Hays State took care of business with a 27-14 win over Lindenwood on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 27) in Hays. The Tigers remain in the NCAA Playoff picture with the win and helped Chris Brown to his 56th win as head coach. Brown passed Bob Cortese for the all-time coaching wins lead in FHSU history with the victory.
The Tigers did the majority of their damage through the air with solid performances from quarterbacks Chance Fuller and Jacob Mezera. Fuller threw for a new season-high 274 yards, completing 13-of-18 passes with one touchdown. Mezera completed 11-of-16 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. The pair combined for 389 passing yards.
The Tigers took the initial lead by marching the first drive of the game 43 yards in 1:25. A Dandre Reed 49-yard kick return set up a short field for the Tigers. Four plays later, Mezera found Harley Hazlett for a 28-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 7-0.
Lindenwood answered and tied the game later in the first quarter at 5:08 on the clock when Cade Brister found Mason Bendigo for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
From that point, the Tigers scored 13 more points in the first half to take a 20-7 lead. Dante Brown pushed the Tigers back in front 10-7 with a 28-yard field goal at 1:47 in the first quarter. Charles Tigner had a 1-yard touchdown run at 2:57 in the second quarter, set up by a 56-yard pass completion from Fuller to Andrew Jay the put the Tigers three yards out from the endzone. Brown added another field goal, a 34-yarder with 27 seconds remaining before the half.
Lindenwood made the game a bit uncomfortable by taking the opening drive of the second half 65 yards for a touchdown. Brister found Najee Jackson on a 9-yard pass to make it 20-14. Fort Hays State went 3-and-out on their first two drives of the second half, but finally found paydirt on the third try. Fuller found D.J. Hickman in the flat and he darted up the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown with 2:05 to go in the third quarter. The Tigers saw their lead push back out to 13 with the eventual final of 27-14.
A 10-yard sack by Wyatt Parker on 3rd-and-2 kept pushed Lindenwood back out of scoring range early in the fourth quarter. The Lions went 3-and-out on their next drive and then never got the ball back. The Tigers marched the ball deep into Lion territory and ran out the clock, chewing up the final 6:20 of the game.
Layne Bieberle led the Tiger receiving effort with 122 yards on six catches. Hazlett had a team-high nine receptions for 93 yards. Jay had 80 yards on four catches.
Connor Shedeed and Kolt Trachsel led the Tigers with 11 tackles each, while Jose Delgado added nine. Trachsel had two of Fort Hays State's four sacks in the game. Wyatt Parker had 1.5 and Delgado added a half sack.
Brister finished 20-of-30 passing for the Lions with 178 yards and the two touchdowns. Jackson had a team-high six catches and 42 yards. Cameron Sanders rushed for a team-high 91 yards on 13 carries. Nash Sutherlin added 63 rushing yards on eight carries. Grady Daniels led the Lindenwood tackling effort with 12, followed by Drew Seers with 10. Jonathan Harris had both sacks for Lindenwood and finished with nine tackles.
The Tigers now prepare for the big matchup with Northwest Missouri State next week in Maryville. The 11th-ranked Bearcats rolled to a blowout win at Northeastern State, keeping their one-game lead in the MIAA standings. Northwest Missouri will enter the game at 8-1 overall, while the Tigers enter the game 7-2. The Tigers are looking to tie the Bearcats for the conference lead with one week remaining on the schedule after.