The Earnest Collins Jr. Era as head coach at alma mater Northern Colorado did not start off as things should have. Playing Division II Lindenwood, a level change from the NAIA, the Bears fell to the Lions on a time-expiring field goal, 22-20.
The Bears jumped out to a 7-0 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Seth Lobato to David Deans, but Lindenwood answered back with two field goals.
Bears running back Quintin Hildreth, the team's leading rusher with 54 yards, punched the ball across the goal line on a nine-yard run a few minutes later. However, the Lions were down at halftime, 14-13, because they scored a touchdown just a minute after Hildreth's.
Seth Lobato did not return for the second half of the game, as he was forced out of action due to a rough hit. He went 11-of-17 for 97 yards. Dylan Orms played the second half for the Bears and went just 5-of-10 for 65 yards.
Lindenwood took the lead early in the fourth quarter with a 71-yard touchdown pass. Dave Eden, though, kicked two field goals for the Bears to retake the lead, 20-19. The last one came with 1:10 remaining on the clock, but that was just enough time for the Lions to make a late charge.
Proving the old adage that no lead is ever safe, Lindenwood returned the ensuing kickoff for 44 yards to reach the Bears' 48-yard line. Quarterback John Uribe threw five straight complete passes to reach the two-yard line. After a loss of two yards on a rushing play, the Lions set up for and kicked the game-winning field goal for the 22-20 victory.
Northern Colorado travels next week to face the Colorado St. Rams.