It was a different week but still the same story for the Lincoln Blue Tigers football team.
The offense was shut out Saturday afternoon at Dwight T. Reed Stadium, while the defense struggled to get enough stops in a 44-0 loss to the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play.
"It starts with me," Lincoln interim head coach Malik Hoskins said. "I did a bad job of getting them prepared for this game. We did a bad job coaching overall, and we just didn't give any effort today.
"This is the worst I've seen us this year, as far as effort is concerned."
Lincoln received the opening kick and recorded a pair of first downs, but the drive stalled following a third-down sack after the Blue Tigers made it to the Lopers' 39-yard line.
Of Lincoln's remaining six possessions in the first half, five resulted in three-and-out punts.
"I honestly thought, before the game even started, that we would have success against them," Hoskins said. "We came out and got a couple first downs, and I thought, 'OK, it is what I thought it was.' And then the old Lincoln reared its head. Complacency, miscues, just not playing disciplined."
Nebraska-Kearney punted on its first possession, and the next time on the field, the Lopers' offense faced a fourth-and-5 situation at the Lincoln 38-yard line.
Quarterback TJ Davis lateraled the ball to running back Dayton Sealey, who then completed a halfback pass downfield to Aubrey Marschel-Parker for a 33-yard completion. Two plays later, Davis scored on a 2-yard run, and after a botched extra-point attempt, Nebraska-Kearney led 6-0 with 3:48 to go in the first quarter.
Through six games this season, Lincoln has been outscored 43-14 in the first quarter. The margin widens significantly to 257-48 in the second through fourth quarters.
Saturday's game followed that trend, as Nebraska-Kearney scored three rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
All three touchdowns came on pitch plays in the Lopers' triple-option offense, and all went to the left. David Goodwin scored on a 22-yard run, then added a 27-yard touchdown on Nebraska-Kearney's next possession.
Sealey took a pitch 71 yards to the end zone with 3:53 left in the second quarter, extending the lead to 27-0.
"Somebody was responsible for the quarterback, the dive and the pitch," Hoskins said. " The guy that was responsible for the quarterback, they did a good job of cutting him down. Once we got cut down, nobody had the quarterback."
In the second half, Garrett Meyer was the fourth different ball carrier to score a touchdown, crossing the goal line on a 2-yard run to make the score 34-0 with 9:46 left in the third quarter.
Lincoln's offense committed a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter, and both led to the Lopers' last 10 points. An interception by David Tolentino Jr. turned into a 25-yard field goal by Junior Gonzalez, and a fumble by backup quarterback Desmond Howard was recovered by Tell Spies for an 18-yard return for a touchdown.
"For the second week in a row, on the same play by the same two people, it was a fumble recovery for a touchdown," Hoskins said.
Saturday was the first game this season Lincoln's defense failed to force a turnover.
Lincoln finished the game with 147 yards of total offense, compared to 550 for Nebraska-Kearney. The Blue Tigers were held to 35 yards passing.
"The frustration is more so geared toward the offense than anything else," Hoskins said. "We can't get a first down in stretches, and it's putting the defense back on the field."
Hosea Franklin finished with 15 carries for 49 yards. The sophomore running back left the game late in the third quarter after rolling his right ankle and did not return.
"If the game was close, he could have played," Hoskins said. "But at that point, I felt no need to put him in harm's way again."
Tori Hicks replaced Franklin and led the Blue Tigers with 55 yards rushing on nine carries.
Sealey led Nebraska-Kearney (4-2) with seven carries for 138 yards, while Goodwin added 11 carries for 115 yards.
Chavon Gross and TeAndre Skinner each had nine tackles to lead the Blue Tigers. Cecil Stallings had three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Lincoln (0-6) hosts Northeastern State (0-6) next Saturday for Homecoming. The RiverHawks extended their losing streak to 19 games Saturday with a 70-13 loss at home to Washburn.
"With six more games to play, I don't know what I'm going to do to get them ready," Hoskins said. "I thought they were motivated to finish the season."