Northwest Missouri State quarterback Joel Osborn completed a 27-yard pass to Nick Rhodes on fourth-and-10 and on the ensuing play, hit Kendall Wright for a 15-yard touchdown pass and the winning score in a 38-35 win against Pittsburg State Saturday at Bearcat Stadium.
Northwest (11-1) advances to the national quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row where a rematch with Abilene Christian (11-0) in Abilene, Texas, awaits. The Wildcats were a 93-68 winner against West Texas A&M Saturday.
Northwest took a 24-13 lead into halftime and made it 31-13 early in the third quarter on a 29-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Blake Bolles – his only play in the game. A Mark Smith fumble preceded the score and was one of three turnovers by Pittsburg State’s senior quarterback.
Smith accounted for all but two yards on a 10-play, 51-yard touchdown drive on the Gorillas’ ensuing possession. Brandon Clark got the final two yards to close the gap to 31-19. A two-point conversion pass from Smith to Ricky Ludeman made it 31-21.
A dropped pass led to a Northwest punt and a 12-play touchdown drive by the Gorillas followed. Clark’s second 2-yard run made it 31-28 near the end of the third quarter.
The two teams exchanged punts and a 25-yard return by Harrison Kush gave Pittsburg State the ball at the Northwest 34-yard line with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Smith and Clark combined on seven straight rushes and Clark gave the Gorillas their first lead, 35-31, on his third 2-yard run with 3:34 remaining.
Northwest got a 36-yard return near midfield from Wright. Osborn ran for a first down, but a sack by Brett Shamblin helped lead to a fourth-and-10 from the 42-yard line with 1:20 left.
Chris Swartz blitzed on the fourth-down play and had a free shot at Osborn, who mananged to free himself before firing downfield. Rhodes came back to the underthrown pass before making the completion at the 15.
Osborn found Wright in the left-corner of the end zone with 55 seconds left. Four incompletions by Smith sealed the win.
Smith passed for 185 yards and ran for 123 and a score. His three turnovers led to 21 Northwest points.
Osborn was 17-of-27 for 234 yards and Wright had four catches for 59. LaRon Council carried 18 times for 95 yards and three first-half touchdowns.
Myles Burnsides had a career-high 12 tackles to lead the Bearcats. He also intercepted a pass and forced one of Smith’s two fumbles.
Story courtesy of Northwest Missouri athletics