Blake Bolles hit Josh Baker with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Northwest Missouri State a 35-31 win against Texas A&M-Kingsville Saturday in an NCAA second round playoff game from Javelina Stadium.
The Bearcats win, coupled by Central Missouri’s 55-41 victory against previously unbeaten Abilene Christian, sets up an all MIAA final for the regional championship next Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Maryville. Northwest beat Central Missouri 17-16 earlier this season.
Bolles threw three touchdowns against Kingsville and passed for 380 yards – his second-highest tally this season. He began the game-winning drive from his own 20 with four minutes left and accounted for 76 of the 80 yards to give Northwest its first lead of the game. The Bearcats trailed by 10 points on four separate occasions.
Jake Soy caught a career-high 12 passes for a career-high 161 yards including an 11-yard touchdown grab that pulled the Bearcats within three, 31-28, with 10 minutes remaining. Soy’s 39th career touchdown reception is a Northwest record as he separated himself from Jamaica Rector.
Baker finished with eight catches for 87 yards and has caught a touchdown in eight of 12 games this season. Tyler Shaw caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Bolles for Northwest’s first score of the game.
Kingsville (10-2) led 10-0, 17-7, 24-14, and 31-21, but couldn’t hold on. An ill-timed Nate Poppell interception with 12 minutes left led to a quick 5-play, 53-yard touchdown drive that brought Northwest within three, 31-28. It was the only turnover of the game for the Javelinas.
Northwest (11-1) overcame two turnovers including a Soy fumble following a hard hit by Tressor Batiste with 5:38 remaining. Two consecutive negative running plays followed by an incompletion forced Kingsville to punt the ball back to Northwest for the final time.
Poppell finished 25-for-38 for 268 yards and two touchdowns. One was a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lincoln, who had five catches for 94 yards. He also scored from 69 yards out on a reverse on the first play of the fourth quarter. Lincoln appeared to be stopped behind the line, but made a number of shifty moves and broke several tackles on his way to the end zone. The play gave the Javelinas their 31-21 lead.
After scoring seven points and totaling 194 yards of offense in a season-opening 16-7 loss to Kingsville, the Bearcats accumulated 470 yards against the nation’s fourth-best unit. The 35 points were the most given up by the Javelinas this season. Four of Northwest’s five touchdown drives went for more than 70 yards.
Story courtesy of Northwest athletics.