ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Missouri Western saw the return of senior quarterback Skyler Windmiller under center, but the No. 8 Fort Hays State University football team pounced on the Griffons from the jump.
Missouri Western (4-4) totaled just 88 yards of offense and gave up 450 total yards en route to a 38-10 loss Saturday at Spratt Stadium, its first loss at home this season.
The victory gave Fort Hays (8-0) its best start in school history.
In his return from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 1, Windmiler finished 13-for-29 for 116 yards with a 3-yard touchdown to Keylan Mack late in the first half to cut the deficit to 14-10. The senior also threw a pair of interceptions in the second half and was sacked four times.
He was outdone by Jacob Mezera, who completed 14 of 22 passes for 248 yards and a 67-yard touchdown to Monterio Burchfield. The junior finished with five catches for 184 yards.
“Going into the game, we knew (Burchfield) was really good,” Griffon head coach Matt Williamson said. “He got after us pretty good. We made a couple good plays on him, but he got the best of us today.”
Fort Hays immediately took a lead on a bad snap on a punt attempt, its third of the season, that resulted in a fumble recovery in the end zone less than 5 minutes into the game.
The next drive resulted in Burchfield’s 67-yard touchdown on third down.
Missouri Western didn’t get on the board until 10:02 left in the half on a 41-yard field goal by Tyler Basch.
After a pair of stops, including a second recovery on a muffed punt, Windmiller connected with Mack for the score with 52 seconds remaining.
But the Western defense bent and broke, allowing a 31-yard rush by Mezera and 25-yard reception by Mezera en route to a 4-yard rushing score by senior running back Kenneth Iheme for a 21-10 halftime deficit.
“Hats off to Fort Hays. We know they’re a really good football team,” Williamson said. “They’re gonna make a hard push the rest of the season.”
No. 8 Fort Hays rushed the ball 45 times on the afternoon, led by Iheme’s 23 totes for 114 yards.
The Tigers picked up rushing scores by Charles Tigner and Iheme in the third quarter before a Brandon Brown field goal in the fourth.
Fort Hays scored the final 24 points of the game.