Despite penalties and mistakes, plus losing their starting running back on the first play of the game, it didn’t stop the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats from dominating their rival. The defending national champions found a way to beat the Griffons 42-0 in a battle of two top 8 teams in Division II football.
(Following story courtesy of Northwest Missouri State Athletics)
The Bearcats starting running back Billy Creason on the first play of the game after he ran 21 yards. He suffered a leg injury that will keep him out 4 to 6 six weeks.
Northwest still trounced its nearby rival in front of a record crowd of 10,805 at Bearcat Stadium. It’s the first time Northwest has ever held Missouri Western scoreless in 30 meetings and the first time the Griffons have been shut out since 1997.
The win lifted No. 7 Northwest to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the MIAA. The Bearcats have now won 40 straight conference games, one shy of equaling the MIAA record held by Northwest. Missouri Western dropped to 4-1 and 2-1. And the Griffons appeared to be a couple notches below Northwest .
The Bearcats went into halftime in front 14-0 on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bolles to Jake Soy in the first quarter and a 1-yard touchdown run by Kelvin Austin in the second quarter.
But Northwest was far from perfect in the opening 30 minutes. They committed a couple of uncharacteristic personal fouls and had a couple of false starts that hurt a few drives. Bolles also threw an interception deep in Missouri Western territory when Northwest led only 7-0.
The Northwest defense and later Jordan Simmons bailed Bolles out. The Bearcats were stellar on defense all afternoon. They forced a punt and Simmons returned it 78 yards to the 1, setting up Austin’s touchdown.
The Bearcats started the third quarter error prone and it didn’t matter. A mishandling of the kickoff coupled with a block in the back penalty put the ball on the 5 for Northwest. On the 13-play, 95-yard scoring drive, Northwest was still called for two false starts. But Bolles was on. He completed five of six passes on the drive that ended with a 1-yard run by Simmons. The touchdown gave the Bearcats a commanding 21-0 lead with 9:12 left in the third quarter.
Northwest’s defense actually took its game to another level. First, the Bearcats stopped Missouri Western in four plays on a critical drive for the Griffons. Later, junior linebacker Chad Kilgore picked off a pass and gave the ball to the Bearcats at Missouri Western’s 44. Four plays later, Northwest scored on a 33-yard strike from Bolles to Soy.
Northwest still had more impressive work to do on defense. Senior cornerback Ryan Jones picked off a pass and returned it 36 yards for his first-career touchdown off an interception. The score gave the Bearcats an incredible 35-0 lead with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
Nobody could have predicted Northwest winning so easily against a Missouri Western team that came in as the top scoring squad in NCAA Division II, averaging 48.6 points.
The Griffons simply had no answers for the swarming Bearcats. Missouri Western finished with only 167 yards of total offense.