HAYS, Kansas—Fort Hays State jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and stayed with No. 17 ranked Missouri Western in the first half, but the Griffons were too much in the second half, pulling away by a score of 55-17 on Senior Day in Hays. Fort Hays State finishes the season at 4-7 overall and 3-6 in the MIAA. Missouri Western improved to 9-2 overall and 7-2 in the MIAA.
Fort Hays State opened the game with a 77-yard run by Andre Smith, which he followed with a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 7-0 in the first 18 seconds of the game. The Griffons responded quickly with a 9-play, 50-yard drive to tie the score on a 4-yard touchdown run by Travis Partridge.
Michael Hill 20-yard touchdown run to tie the score once again.
The Griffons took their first lead of the game in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Hill. The Tigers pulled within four with a 27-yard field goal by Tyler Kimbrough late in the half. The Griffons pushed the lead to 11 by halftime with a 2-yard touchdown run by Hill with just 12 seconds remaining in the first half.
FHSU quarterback Anthony Sheppard was having an efficient game, but sustained an injury late in the first half and did not return. He had 95 yards passing, completing 7-of-11 attempts and rushed for 21 yards. Fort Hays State had 224 yards of total offense in the first half. The Tiger offense sputtered after his exit from the game, producing only 83 yards of total offense in the second half.
The Griffons outscored the Tigers 27-0 in the second half to pull away for the win. An 8-yard pass from Partridge to Tarrell Downing pushed the score to 35-17 in favor of the Griffons. They put the game away on a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Missouri Western churned out 434 yards on the ground, a season high, led by two 100-yard rushers in Michael Hill and Travis Partridge. Hill ran for 182 yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts, while Partridge ran for 105 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts. The Griffons had three other players rush for over 45 yards in the game.
Greg Zuerlein broke the NCAA Division II record for consecutive field goals with his 18th in the fourth quarter from 35 yards out. He hit a 27-yarder in the third quarter to tie the record.
Andre Smith averaged 9.6 yards per carry for the Tigers with 135 yards on 14 carries.
Alex Whitwhill had a huge afternoon on defense for the Tigers. He set a new all-time FHSU single-season record for tackles with 164 in a season. It broke the mark of 150 set by Junior Hartig in 1979. Late in the game, Whitehill set a new NCAA Division II record for assisted tackles in a game with his 106th of the season. It passed the old mark of 105 set by Brian Holliday of Fayetteville State in 2002. Whitehill also set a career-high for tackles in a game with 21.
Ethan Kosjer also set two FHSU records. He set a new single-season record for punting average at 44.4 yards per punt this season. He set a new career record for punting average with 42.7 yards per punt in his career. Both marks passed records set by Adam Ryan.