For the second consecutive season the Missouri Western football bowed out of the NCAA Division II Nation Playoffs against rival Northwest Missouri State in the opening round. Western fell 35-29 finishing the season with a 9-3 record. Nine wins ties a single season record for the Griffons.
Things started the way any team would want as Western forced three Bearcat turnovers on Northwest’s first three possessions. The first play from scrimmage for the Bearcats was a backwards pass by Trevor Adams which was picked up by Ben Jackson and returned 38 yards to the Bearcat one yard line. The very next play resulted in a Travis Partridge touchdown run putting Western up 7-0 just 29 seconds into the game.
Cody Kramer intercepted an Adams pass on the next possession which resulted in a 58 yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. The field goal tied his previous record which he set on November 5 against Northwest. The next possession Adams threw a pick six to Western’s Shane Simpson giving the Griffons the 16-0 lead after the Zuerlein missed extra point. The Bearcats calmed down and on their next possession Adams hit David Mosely for a 51 yard touchdown cutting Western’s lead to 16-7 just four minutes and 27 second into the game.
The pace slowed down the rest of the half as Zuerlein nailed 57 and 52 yard field goals putting Western up 22-7 heading into the break. Western was held to 80 yards on 30 plays in the first frame with Michael Hill rushing 10 times for 35 yards. Partridge completed 6-of-14 passes for 47 yards while Tyron Crockum had three receptions for 32 yards. Tom Madget led the defense with six first half tackles.
Northwest had 190 yards on 39 plays with Adams rushing six times for 28 yards. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 138 yards with Mosley catching five passes for 80 yards. DJ Gnader led the way with five tackles and one sack.
The Bearcats held the Griffons on the opening possession of the second half stopping a fake punt opportunity by Reggie Jordan. Northwest went 46 yards on four plays with James Franklin scampering in from 35 yards out cutting the Griffon lead to 22-14 with 12:18 to play. Western responded going 80 yards on nine plays in 3:54 with Derek Libby taking a reverse 38 yards for the touchdown giving Western a 29-14 lead.
The rest of the game belonged to the Bearcats scoring 21 unanswered points earning the six point victory and improving to 10-2 on the season.
Western finished with 186 yards with 93 on the ground and through the air. Hill rushed 21 times for 65 yards finishing the season with 1,305 yards rushing. Partridge completed 10-of-23 passes with four going to Crockum for 41 yards. Scott Groner punted seven times for an average of 51.9 yards per punt with a long of 80 and three inside the 20. Jack Long finished with a career high 13 tackles with six being solo.
Northwest finished with 455 yards with 248 coming through the air and 207 on the ground. Franklin finished with 111 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns while Adams rushed 15 times on 78 carries. Adams completed 19-of-33 passes for 182 yards with Mosley catching six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. Taylor Pierce caught four passes for 89 yards and one touchdown. Gnader had 11 tackles with one sack leading the Bearcats defensively.
Story courtesy of Missouri Western athletics