Northwest Missouri State (5-1, 5-0 MIAA), the No. 9 team in the AFCA Division II poll and No. 2 in the Southwest Region ranking this week, will hit the road to try and maintain its unblemished MIAA record with a match-up against Fort Hays State (3-4, 1-4 MIAA) Saturday (Oct. 20).
It is the first trip to Lewis Field Stadium for a Bearcats football squad since 1979. The Tigers will be looking to improve on last year’s 59-0 setback to Northwest last season in Maryville.
FHSU has the conference’s top rushing defense (79.4 yapg), and will get a stiff test with the MIAA’s top rusher coming to town in the Bearcats’ senior RB Xavier Omon (159.8 ypg).
The Washburn Ichabods (5-2, 4-1 MIAA) stand alone in second place entering their Homecoming match-up with Truman (4-3, 2-3 MIAA) in Yager Stadium at Moore Bowl.
The Ichabods moved to the No. 6 spot in this week’s regional ranking, and has discovered a potent rushing attack in recent weeks. WU has logged more than 250 rushing yards twice in the last three games, and is averaging 238.0 yards on the ground in that span.
Meanwhile, Truman has allowed its foes to gain more than 230 rushing yards in three of its last four games and 1,208 total yards in the Bulldogs last two outings.
The pass defense of No. 21-ranked Pittsburg State (5-2, 3-2 MIAA) will get a test this week when the Gorillas travel to Southwest Baptist (0-7, 0-5 MIAA) and see Division II’s No. 4-ranked throwing offense (310.4 ypg).
PSU also presents a challenge for SBU, as the Gorillas boast the No. 7 rushing offense (269.9 ypg) in D-II. The Bearcats have allowed 285 yards per game over their last three outings.
Besides Washburn, two other schools are celebrating Homecoming this weekend. Central Missouri (4-3, 3-2 MIAA) has Missouri Southern (5-2, 3-2 MIAA) in a battle between a pair of squads tied for third in the conference standings.
The Mules, stinging from close losses in two of their last three games, will be trying to get their running game back on track. UCM was limited to 91 yards rushing last week at Northwest — the team has lost both games in which it failed to surpass 100 yards on the ground.
The Lions have been getting more production from their passing game in the last four games. Southern has gained 63 percent of its total yardage (929-of-1473) through the air in that span, compared to 35 percent (510-of-1454) in the first three games of 2007.
Emporia State (3-4, 1-4 MIAA) hosts Missouri Western (5-2, 3-2 MIAA) at Jones Field/Welch Stadium for Homecoming.
The Hornets are 8-3 in their last 11 Homecoming games, and will need to slow the high-scoring Griffons (36.6 ppg — second in the MIAA) to send the alumni home happy.
Western will be trying to spoil things for ESU, entering the game with a perfect 3-0 road record in 2007.
All MIAA games this week are available in streaming video on www.themiaa.tv for $5.95 each.
LIGHTNING CRASHES — AGAIN: Two of the five games played in the MIAA last week were delayed by Mother Nature’s electrical show.
The start of the game with Central Missouri at Northwest Missouri State was delayed by an hour by lightning °© the second time it has affected a game at Bearcat Stadium/Mel Tjeerdsma Field this season.
The wait was longer to the south, as Missouri Western’s Homecoming game with Southwest Baptist started two hours late at Spratt Memorial Stadium. The delay in the football game also caused the Griffons’ women’s soccer match with SBU to be pushed back by an hour from its original 7 p.m. start.
OMON WATCH: Northwest Missouri State senior RB Xavier Omon is closing in on Pittsburg State’s Ronald Moore (1989-92) on two MIAA career charts.
After scoring once against Central Missouri, Omon now has 468 points, 12 behind Moore (480) for third on the scoring list.
Omon needs 81 yards to pass Moore (5,776) for fourth place on the conference career rushing list.
THE 80-WIN CLUB: Two men have a chance to close in on the 80-win plateau as a head coach in the MIAA.
Willie Fritz of Central Missouri needs one more to be the eighth MIAA coach with 80 wins.
With 76 wins, Missouri Western’s Jerry Partridge needs wins in the Griffons’ last four games to make 80 this regular season. He is two wins from tying former UCM head coach Terry Noland (1983-96 — 78) for ninth on the MIAA’s coaching victories list.
Central Missouri: It was Homecoming the last time the Mules defeated the Lions at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field — UCM claimed a 27-24 win in the 2005 meeting… The Mules are 5-0 at home against MSSU in head coach Willie Fritz’s tenure… Sophomore QB Eric Czerniewski threw for a career-high 271 yards and three TDs against Northwest last week, but had his potential game-tying two-point pass batted away at the line of scrimmage with 1:06 left in the game… Senior FS Kendall Ricketts left last week’s game with an injury — he was listed No. 1 on the depth chart for the Southern game released Tuesday (Oct. 16).
Emporia State: The Hornets actually enjoyed a 435-412 edge in total offense in their loss to Washburn last week… Freshman WR Andre Maupin had 159 all-purpose yards against the Ichabods — he led ESU with 75 rushing yards and 84 receiving… Emporia State blocked four kicks in the last meeting with Western… Junior RB Seville Ko had 112 yards on and a TD 24 rushing attempts in last season’s 24-12 loss to the Griffons… Senior CB Emmanuel Howard left last week’s game with an injury — he’s the MIAA co-leader in interceptions (4 — 0.6 per game).
Fort Hays State: Senior DL Jason Hill extended his string of games with a quarterback sack to seven — he has 9.0 for the year (1.3 per game — 2nd in D-II)… Senior RB Jordan Hickel needs 34 yards to become the third FHSU player with 3,000 career rushing yards — he was held to 14 yards in the loss to Southern last week, but still moved into third on the school’s career rushing list… The Tigers have averaged just 216.7 yards of offense over the past three games, and only 75.7 on the ground… The FHSU defense held MSSU three times on fourth-down plays inside the FHSU 30.
Missouri Southern: Junior QB Adam Hinspeter needs 152 more passing yards to crack the MIAA’s career top 10 — he has 6,374 entering the UCM game… Senior WR Colin Bado had 12 receptions, one shy of matching the school record, in the win at FHSU last week — he has 27 catches over his last three games, 10 more than he had in his first four of 2007… MSSU is the only MIAA school allowing less than 300 yards per game on defense this season (290.7 yapg)… Only once have the Lions allowed more than 200 passing yards in a game (SBU had 289 on Sept. 27).
Missouri Western: The Griffons may have had four kicks blocked in their last meeting with ESU, but one was converted into a TD when holder Daniel Eidson picked up the ball and tossed a scoring pass to TE Gijon Robinson — starting a run of 24 straight MWSU points in the game en route to a 24-12 win… Western logged season-highs in rushing (330) and total yards (521) in the win over SBU last week… Freshman RB La’Darrian Page had a season-best 166 rushing yards last week against the Bearcats… Sophomore WR Ferrell McGee had 154 all-purpose yards (78 rec., 76 KOR) and his first two TDs of the season vs. SBU.
Northwest Missouri State: The Bearcats avoided a second overtime effort in as many games by batting down a two-point pass late in the UCM game — in spite of only having 10 players on the field at the snap… Northwest is 5-0 to start MIAA play for the 10th time in 12 seasons… Senior RB Xavier Omon remains the NCAA-II leader in scoring (18.0 ppg) and is fourth in rushing (159.8 ypg) as he took over the conference rushing lead with his 217 yards vs. the Mules… The Bearcats slipped to second in D-II scoring offense (44.8 ppg) after leading last week… Senior QB Josh Mathews is seventh in NCAA-II pass efficiency (167.3 Rating).
Pittsburg State: The 40-0 blanking of Truman last week was the Gorillas’ first MIAA shutout since a 69-0 blanking of SBU in 2004… PSU is seventh in D-II rushing offense (269.9 ypg) after cracking 300 yards for the first time this season (306) last week… Junior TB Caleb Farabi had his string of 100-yard rushing efforts snapped at six when he finished with 83 yards vs. the Bulldogs — 2 yards shy of 1000 for the season… Junior QB Mark Smith had a career-high 108 rushing yards last week and added 203 through the air — 98 coming on a long touchdown connection with junior WR Harrison Kush — he threw for 2 TDs in the game.
Southwest Baptist: Senior WR Nick Smart broke the SBU single-game receptions record for the second time in as many weeks — his 18 catches vs. Western was one more than his effort vs. Truman a week earlier… If he has a mere average day (a D-II best 12.1 rpg), Smart can equal the MIAA single-season receptions record of 97 set by Emporia State’s J.J. Richard in 2004 and equalled by Northwest’s Andre Rector in 2005… Freshman QB Steven Gachette, 10 in D-II total offense (297.6 ypg), is on pace to break the MIAA single-season marks for passes attempted (503) and total offensive plays (596).
Truman: The Bulldogs suffered their first MIAA shutout since a 17-0 blanking against Northwest Missouri State in 2005 — a span of 20 league games… The setback also snapped a six-game win streak at Stokes Stadium for Truman… The Bulldogs will be looking for their first win over Washburn in Topeka since a 12-6 effort in 2003… Truman has a 9-4 record against WU in Topeka… After going without an interception through his first four games, junior QB Matt Ticich has tossed five in the last three games… Truman won last season’s rain-soaked affair with WU in Kirksville, 21-7, as Ticich rushed for 89 yards and two TDs.
Washburn: The Ichabods are seeking to extend their win streak to four games after winning at ESU last week.. Washburn committed six second-half turnovers in last season’s loss at Truman… Counting Homecoming games played on the road, the Ichabods have won 17 of their last 23, including the last four… a win Saturday will ensure the Ichabods of their fourth consecutive winning season — the last time that happened was when they had five in a row from 1903-07… Junior RB Brandon Walker rushed for a career-high 153 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns vs. ESU… With 2,938 yards, senior RB Ra’Shawn Mosley needs 217 to become WU’s career rushing leader.