In his first college football game as a kick returner, Marquis Sumpter returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown October 17 in Kearney, NE.
“It worked out good. I had good blocks,” Sumpter said.
Sumpter, who is also a receiver for Western New Mexico State, scored in the fourth quarter of Western New Mexico’s game against NCAA Division II 16th-ranked University of Nebraska-Kearney.
UNK kicker Jordan Algeria, who had booted a 32-yard field goal on the previous play, kicked off with 8:30 remaining in the game.
The kickoff went to the Mustang 6-yard-line, whereupon Sumpter took the ball the other way for a score.
“I set out to find the hole and found it,” Sumpter said. “I went right first and then I cut back left at the end of it.”
Sumpter, a true freshman who graduated from Fallbrook High School in June, was a starting receiver in Western New Mexico’s 65-30 loss to the Lopers.
His only reception of the game was a 23-yard pass from quarterback Dennis Havrilla on the first play of a second-quarter drive.
“Dennis threw me a good ball,” Sumpter said. “I caught it and got some extra yards on it.”
Six plays later Kevin Breaker ran six yards into the end zone for a touchdown; Colin Lund’s kick for the extra point narrowed UNK’s lead to 21-10.
The Lopers would score the next four touchdowns, and to make matters worse WNMU returner Josh Felton was injured.
Western New Mexico coach Bernie Busken utilized Sumpter as a returner. “I had my chance,” Sumpter said. “My first two kickoff returns I got good yardage.”
After UNK took a 42-10 lead, Algeria kicked off to the WNMU 8. Sumpter’s first collegiate kick return gained 28 yards, placing the ball on the Mustang 36.
With 38 seconds left in the first half the Mustangs turned over the ball on downs at midfield and UNK added a final first-half touchdown.
After the Lopers took a 56-17 lead early in the third quarter, Algeria kicked off to the Mustang 12. Sumpter returned the ball 24 yards to the 36, although that possession ended with an interception.
Sumpter’s third return narrowed the UNK lead to 59-30, although the two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The touchdown was Sumpter’s first-ever score on a kickoff return. “It was a good feeling,” said Sumpter.
Sumpter returned a kickoff for a touchdown while at Fallbrook High School, but the play was called back because of a Warrior penalty.
The touchdown was Sumpter’s second collegiate score. On September 19 he caught a first-quarter pass from Havrilla which resulted in a 54-yard touchdown against Mesa State.
Sumpter’s 169 all-purpose yards topped Western New Mexico players other than Havrilla, who had 201 passing and 20 rushing yards.
“I had a good day,” Sumpter said.