Northwest Missouri State running back LaRon Council scored four touchdowns to lead the second-ranked Bearcats to a 35-10 win against 18th-ranked Abilene Christian in a second-round NCAA playoff game Saturday at Bearcat Stadium.
It’s the second year in a row that Northwest has avenged a season-opening loss against Abilene Christian by beating the Wildcats in the postseason. It was also a bittersweet win for the Bearcat seniors, who improved to 27-1 at Bearcat Stadium. The lone loss was to the Wildcats last season.
Council capped the opening drive of the game with an 8-yard touchdown run. He had three rushing scores on the day and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bolles in the fourth quarter. Council carried 17 times for 87 yards.
The Wildcats answered with a 29-yard field goal by Morgan Lineberry on their first possession and had third-and-goal from the 1 on their second. Quarterback Mitchell Gale tried to extend the football across the goal line on a sneak, but Northwest linebacker Willie Horn knocked the ball loose and the Bearcats recovered.
Northwest seized the momentum from that play and never gave it back. Two series later, Bolles broke a career-long 71-yard touchdown run that gave the Bearcats a 14-3 lead, which they took into halftime.
Wildcat running back Reggie Brown fumbled on the opening carry of the third quarter and Northwest recovered. Council scored from 1-yard out three plays later and the lead was 21-3. It was 35-3 before Abilene Christian tacked on a late score.
Abilene Christian entered Saturday’s game with the top run defense in the nation, but surrendered a season-high 168 yards to Northwest. It also allowed a season high for points. Northwest outgained Abilene Christian 397-288.
Both teams combined for seven turnovers. The Bearcats sacked Gale six times and recovered three Wildcat fumbles. Bolles threw a career-high three interceptions and lost another possession on a fumbled snap from center. He finished 15-of-20 for 229 yards and a touchdown in his first postseason start.
Northwest wide out Jake Soy caught seven passes for 141 yards – his seventh 100-yard effort this season. Edmund Gates caught eight passes for 102 yards for Abilene Christian.