Third-ranked Northwest Missouri State clinched at least a share of its 22 nd MIAA championship with a 56-7 win against Emporia State Saturday at Bearcat Stadium. It’s the Bearcats’ third consecutive conference crown and 10 th in the last 13 seasons. Mel Tjeerdsma is the first head coach with 10 MIAA titles.
Northwest (9-1, 8-0 MIAA) scored the game’s first 49 points – 42 in the first half – to earn its 14 th straight win against Emporia State (4-6, 2-6). The Hornets are 2-23 all-time against the Bearcats.
Northwest won on senior day for the 12 th year in a row, although nearly all 13 seniors didn’t play a snap in the second half. Bearcat starters were out before the game reached halftime. Northwest even held on to its three timeouts and let the first-half clock expire with the ball inside the Hornets’ 10-yard line.
By that time, LaRon Council had rushed for two scores, Joel Osborn had thrown for two and Kendall Wright had registered a touchdown rushing and receiving.
Wright’s 20-yard touchdown pass from Osborn was the game’s first score. It was the 20 th receiving touchdown of the senior’s career, which moves him into fourth all-time in program history. Wright also moved ahead of Andre Rector and into third on the career receiving yards list. Wright has 225 career catches for 3,072 yards.
Council carried 13 times and had 84 of the Bearcats’ 302 yards rushing on the day. His 23 touchdowns scored this season are three shy of Xavier Omon’s regular-season record set last season.
Two first-half fumbles by Emporia State quarterback Andre Sloan El set up two quick scores. The Hornets didn’t run a play in Northwest territory in the first half. Emporia State ran 34 plays in the first half for 47 yards.
Osborn was 10-of-16 for 152 yards and two scores, including a 43-yard touchdown toss to Brian Shannon, which gave the Bearcats a 42-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Backup quarterback Blake Bolles was 8-of-9 for 89 yards and a touchdown, his fifth of the season against no interceptions. Bolles also carried six times for 25 yards.
Clint Moore matched his career-high with 79 yards rushing on nine carries. Sheldon Cook rushed for 47 yards and Kelvin Austin 40 for the Bearcats.
Emporia State capitalized on the Bearcats’ only turnover for its score. A fumbled snap from center led to a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hornet backup quarterback Zach Rampy to Tracy Hageman in the middle of the fourth quarter. Rampy was the Hornets’ leading rusher with 31 yards.
Northwest has 27 straight wins in conference play and can run the table in the MIAA for the third year in a row with a win at Missouri Southern (4-6, 2-6) next weekend.
Pittsburg State at 7-1 in conference play can steal a share of the MIAA championship with a win at Emporia State next Saturday coupled by a Northwest loss.