HAYS, Kan. – Fort Hays State secured its second consecutive MIAA Championship on Saturday with a 58-0 shutout over Northeastern State. The No. 22/17 ranked Tigers moved to 9-2 with the win, while the RiverHawks finished their season at 0-11. The win should secure a second-straight berth in the NCAA Playoffs for the Tigers, who entered the game ranked No. 5 in NCAA Super Region 3.
Chris Brown Postgame Press Conference
Jacob Mezera Postgame Press Conference
Jose Delgado Postgame Press Conference
Fort Hays State dominated from the very start, jumping out to a 28-0 lead after one quarter. The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game. Jacob Mezera found Layne Bieberle for a 19-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring two minutes into the contest. Mezera hit Dandre Reed with an 11-yard shovel pass for the second touchdown. The Tigers used a little trickery for the third touchdown as Harley Hazlett took a handoff and then threw downfield to Bieberle for a 42-yard touchdown. D.J. Hickman capped the scoring in the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run. Dante Brown added field goals from 24 and 21 yards in the second quarter to push the Tigers out to a 34-0 lead by halftime.
FHSU put two more touchdowns and a field goal on the board in the third quarter. Hickman scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and then Charles Tigner broke free for a 36-yard touchdown run on their first two possessions. Brown added his third field goal of the game, this time from 29 yards to push the lead to 51-0 after three quarters.
Mezera capped a strong Senior Day performance by finding Manny Ramsey for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 7:47 remaining in the game. He finished 19-of-31 passing with 211 yards and three touchdowns. All other Tiger passers were perfect on the afternoon, Chance Fuller going 7-of-7 for 73 yards, Jacoby Williams 2-of-2 for eight yards, and Hazlett 1-of-1 with the touchdown strike to Bieberle in the first quarter.
Along with his touchdown pass, Hazlett finished with a team-high nine receptions for 93 yards. Bieberle had a team-best 95 receiving yards on six catches with his two touchdowns. Hickman was the leading rusher for FHSU with 80 yards on 13 carries. Tigner was close behind with 74 yards on seven carries.
Jose Delgado led the Tigers in tackles with eight, now with 106 on the season. It’s his third straight year with over 100 tackles, moving his career count to 391. Sterling Swopes had a strong afternoon with six tackles, a half sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup, while Connor Shedeed also added six tackles.
Fort Hays State put together 575 yards of total offense and held Northeastern State to 190 yards. Jake Pruitt led NSU with 112 passing yards. Tre’Von Overstreet led the RiverHawks in rushing with 46 yards. Courtland Clark and Joshua Dykes tied with a team-high 12 tackles for NSU.
Fort Hays State reaches nine wins in a season for just the second time in program history, reaching the mark in two straight years now. The Tigers went a perfect 11-0 in the regular season last year to claim the MIAA crown. Northwest Missouri State defeated Central Missouri on Saturday and matched the Tigers’ 9-2 this season in MIAA play, also claiming a piece of the conference crown.
The Tigers posted their second shutout of the season and the 58 points were the most they’ve scored in an MIAA game.
The Tigers now await their NCAA Playoff fate when the Super Region 3 bracket is announced on Sunday at 4 pm. See the selection show at the following link. https://www.ncaa.com/sports/football/d2. If the Tigers are among the No. 2 through 4 seeds in the super region, they will host a home game on Saturday, November 17. If they are a No. 5 through 7 seed, they will be going on the road for the first round on the same date. The top four teams in the super region rankings all won on Saturday, along with FHSU and Northwest Missouri State. The only upset in the top seven happened to No. 7 ranked Southern Arkansas, which lost at Arkansas-Monticello.