By Nate Tenopir – Senior Staff Writer
Missouri Western quarterback Drew Newhart found receiver Adam Clausen in the back of the end zone with 16 seconds remaining when the Griffons defeated the Mavs 16-14 Saturday afternoon. UNO had scored 1:24 earlier to take a 14-10 lead, but couldn’t hold it as Missouri Western drove 64 yards in seven plays to take the lead for good.
To make matters worse, it appeared UNO had the win wrapped up on the third play of the drive when Mav freshman cornerback Bryan Shepherd deflected Newhart’s pass, which then fell into the hands of UNO senior safety Danny Pelster for the interception.
As UNO was celebrating a play that would have ensured the win, cheers were soon silenced when the referee indicated there had been a flag on the play for pass interference by Pelster. The call seemed questionable, as Shepherd had tipped the ball and Pelster wasn’t involved in the play until he dove and got his hands on the ball.
“I didn’t even see a flag thrown until I got up off the ground,” said Pelster. “If that’s what happened, that’s what happened, but games like this shouldn’t come down to one call. We had our opportunities earlier in the game that we should’ve capitalized on.”
In rare fashion, it was the UNO defense that had to pick up the slack for the lack-luster Mav offense. The Griffons came into Saturday averaging over 32 points a game against a UNO defense that surrendered an average of 31.
The Maverick offense, (usually good for at least 24 points and close to 200 rushing yards per game) only produced 14 points and 112 yards on the ground on Saturday.
The loss leaves UNO with its first losing season in 15 years and a rare postseason absence. The hope and promise of a new season that was born in August has given way to questions and confusion that come with a disappointing season.
“I didn’t think we had six losses in there, no, not at all,” said UNO head coach Pat Behrns. “We’re looking at the first time in a lot of years and not finding something to do after our season is over.”
The loss is especially hard for players such as Pelster and the rest of the Maverick seniors. Though the senior was called for the pass interference call that overturned a Missouri Western interception, he got up, shook it off.
Players who come to UNO don’t expect to end their careers with a loss, let alone a losing season.
However, it doesn’t make Pelster any less proud of what he accomplished as a Maverick.
“It’s probably the first losing season I’ve had in football in a lot of years,” he said. “If there’s one thing we pass down it’s that ‘don’t quit attitude’ and the hard work that we did in this last offseason. That’s one thing that I can really be proud of when I look back on this season.”
The Mavs end their season next week at Truman State (4-6, 2-6).