Northwest Missouri State claimed all year long they were a team on a mission. The mission was a chance to get back to the NCAA Division II Champion Game. The Bearcats can now declare Mission Almost Complete after routing Bloomsburg (Penn.) 33-3. To fully fulfill what they set out to do, Northwest must knock off a familiar foe. Waiting for the Bearcats will be Grand Valley State, who beat Northwest in last year’s title game 21-17.
“We are thrilled to go back to Alabama. This team has been on a mission. We have talked about it since we got back last year,” said a jubilant head coach Mel Tjeerdsma.
The Bearcats dominated Bloomsburg in every phase of the game. On the ground, Xavier Omon was able to run through and around the Huskies defense for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Through the air, Josh Matthews was 23-of-32 for 252 yards and a touchdown, a 12-yarder to Raphael Robinson.
On special teams, Tommy Frevert kicked four field goals.
While the offense played superbly, it was the Northwest defense that fueled the team’s win. Bloomsburg’s offense was held to just 191 total yards, 61 in the second half. BU running back Jamar Brittingham went into the game averaging over 100 yards per game, but only managed 56 yards on 15 carries. He did complete a 53-yards pass to Brahin Bilal. Northwest has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 18 straight games.
“Northwest is a great team and they did a super job. We knew if we didn’t run the ballit was going to be a long evening and it was,” Bloomsburg coach Danny Hale said.
Northwest’s stingy defense has held 11 opponents under 300 yards total offense this season.
“We got done what we had to get done,” said Tjeerdsma. “Our defense was just outstanding.”
Jared Erspamer, Kyle Kaiser, Thomas Smith, and Dallas Flynn led the Bearcats defense with five tackles apiece. The Bearcats harassed Dan LaTorre all night sacking him six times.
The Huskies tried to fancy their way to a victory attempting and recovering an on-side kick to start the game. But Ben Harness sacked LaTorre for a loss of 14 on third-and-nine to force a punt.
The Bearcats drove 63 yards on six plays during the ensuing possession. Omon capped the drive with a 1-yard run to open the scoring. It was 13-3 at halftime before Northwest pushed it to 19-3 going into the fourth quarter.
Bloomsburg ends their season 12-2. Northwest improved to 14-0 and will play top-ranked Grand Valley State for the championship in Florence, Ala. on Saturday.
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