With all the history that surrounds the No. 10 Northwest Missouri State football team, the Bearcats pulled out arguably one of the most thrilling playoff wins Saturday knocking off No. 2 Midwestern State 38-31 in overtime of NCAA Division II second-round action.
Blustery conditions caused a limited passing attack from both teams who were also top rated offensive squads in NCAA II. The Bearcats win improved their record to 11-2 on the year as they advance to the NCAA National Quarterfinal.
Trevor Adams found Kyle Kilgore in the corner of the end zone from 13-yards out to strike first in overtime. It was the third touchdown of the day for the duo and eighth of the season for Kilgore.
The vaunted Northwest defense locked-in much as they had the entire second half. After a tackle for a loss by Josh Lorenson the Mustangs would keep the chains moving on a 4th-and-1. However, the Bearcats would force another fourth down as this time Brandon Kelsey’s pass to David Little skipped across the turf, giving Northwest their second straight come-from-behind win.
The Bearcats briefly led to start as they started with the strong winds at their back, taking a 10-7 lead. Matching scores with Northwest, the Mustangs started rolling with their top ranked offense that entered the game averaging 548 yards per game.
Midwestern State (11-1) scored three times in the second quarter to run out to a 28-10 lead. MSU only needed five passing attempts on the three drives getting scores from Keidrick Jackson and Lester Bush. Jackson broke free on a 4th-and-2 to scramble 32-yards giving the Mustangs the momentum. Jackson would finish with 184 yards on 29 carries for the Mustangs.
Northwest would get into the end zone to close out the first half when James Franklin found pay dirt from 6-yards out. The Bearcats would ride Franklin all afternoon as he added a second touchdown jaunt later with 4:56 left in the game to pull Northwest even at 31-31.
In addition to Franklin’s two scores he finished with 146 yards rushing on 26 carries marking his third consecutive game rushing over the century mark.
Led by DJ Gnader the Bearcats only allowed 81 yards rushing from the Mustangs in the second half. Gnader finished with a game high 15 tackles and another important tackle for a loss on the Mustangs final drive of regulation.
The Mustangs would miss a 27-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation. MSU marched into the red zone much as they had in the first half before settling for a field goal on third-down. Greg Saladino hooked the try wide left as the Bearcats took a knee to head to overtime.
Adams had opened the fourth quarter scoring with a 6-yd toss to Kilgore as Franklin’s second touchdown run came just a little over two minutes later. Despite the strong winds Adams finished with 131 on 15 of 25 passing and 3 touchdown passes.