LaRon Council rushed for a career-high 197 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead third-ranked Northwest Missouri State to a 48-24 win against Missouri Southern Saturday at Hughes Stadium.
It was the Bearcats’ 14th straight win against the Lions (4-7, 2-7 MIAA) dating back to 1995 and it completes Northwest’s third consecutive undefeated run through the MIAA. The Bearcats (10-1, 9-0 MIAA) have won 28 consecutive games in conference play.
Council carried 16 times for 109 yards in the second half. The Bearcats trailed 14-13 at halftime and 17-13 in the third quarter. Council scored three straight touchdowns and backup quarterback Blake Bolles ran in the final two as Northwest closed the game with a 35-7 run.
The Bearcats ran for 258 yards, passed for 334 and totaled 592 in the contest.
Missouri Southern capitalized on two Northwest fumbles and a blocked punt to score its first 17 points. Lions quarterback Adam Hinspeter passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He passed for 27 in the second where Missouri Southern netted 102 yards.
Johnny Johnson caught 11 passes for 116 yards for the Lions and Daniel Thompson caught both touchdown passes. Linebacker Jared Brawner, the MIAA’s second-leading tackler heading into the week, had 17 tackles.
Missouri Southern played turnover-free ball in the first half, but had two miscues early in the second that proved costly. A high snap from center led to an 8-yard punt, giving Northwest possession at the Lions’ 20-yard line. Two Council carries and the Bearcats had a 20-17 lead.
Myles Burnsides intercepted Hinspeter on the Lions’ ensuing possession. The Bearcats drove 60 yards in four minutes and took a 27-17 lead on a 9-yard run by Council.
After punting on its first possession of the second half, the Bearcats reached the end zone on their final five drives of the game.
Joel Osborn was 21-of-28 through the air for 226 yards. Bolles added 108 and scored on 6- and 10-yard runs in the fourth quarter.
Kendall Wright and Josh Gannan caught six passes for 55 and 48 yards, respectively. Nick Rhodes led Northwest with 86 yards receiving on three catches. Rhodes is averaging more than 19 yards a reception this season.
Sean Paddock forced two fumbles and had the Bearcats’ only sack. Adam Vondrak had a team-high seven stops. Burnsides had four tackles to go with his team-leading fourth interception of the season.
The win nearly guarantees Northwest a first-round bye in the NCAA playoffs. The official announcement of the 24-team field comes at 2 p.m. Sunday on ESPNews.