After overcoming a number of odds the magic ran out for the 10th-ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats as they fell 41-16 to 7th-ranked Pittsburg State in a NCAA National Quarterfinal game Saturday at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The Bearcats incredible run ends at 11-3 and snaps their streak of seven straight national semifinal appearances. Pittsburg State improved to 11-1 on the year and advance to next week’s semifinal against Delta State.
After trading possessions to start the second half Zac Dickey found John Brown down the sideline for the first of three touchdowns. He then raced 78-yards for the score giving PSU a 17-10 lead. Brown caught six passes for 174 yards with two touchdown catches over 40-yards that sparked the Gorillas.
“I have to tip my hat to Pittsburg State,” said first-year head coach Adam Dorrel. “They are playing great football and have two outstanding young men in Dickey and Brown.
“We never gave up and I’m proud of our team. The way our team battled, not just today, but all season says a lot about their character. We just ran into a really good football team today and give them credit on making plays when they needed to.”
The Bearcats raced out to a 10-0 lead as a non-stop rain soaked the turf. James Franklin scored on the Bearcats first series as he spun his way into the end zone on a seven play 64-yard drive that eclipsed 2:39. Franklin would be held to just 43 yards on the ground after rushing for over 100-yards in his two previous playoff games.
Northwest would put together another solid drive over 3 minutes after holding PSU to a three-and-out. Todd Adolf nailed a 22-yard field goal to close out the first quarter, as the Gorillas would then score 34 unanswered points and build a 24-point lead.
Looking for a spark senior Blake Christopher took over and was also kept in check going 6-for-11 for 94 yards. Christopher did engineer a brief rally, hooking up with Franklin for the Bearcats only TD through the air, but a pair of interceptions closed the door on the Bearcats’ season.
Much like the first meeting Dickey hurt the Bearcat defense with his feet and his arm. The senior quarterback rushed for 148 yards and threw for 266. He also added three touchdowns, all of which were to Brown.
“John Brown is a great football player,” said senior cornerback Derrick Thomas. “We were in position and had a game plan for him, but great players make great plays and that’s what he did. We won’t hang our heads though. I’m proud to be a Bearcat and this is was a special season.”
Northwest had three turnovers in last week’s win at Midwestern State, but could not overcome the turnovers this week. The Bearcats 297 yards of total offense was their lowest output of the season.
Northwest closes their season failing to avenge a regular season loss for the first time since 2004 marking the last trip to the national semifinal round for the Gorillas.
Story courtesy of northwestbearcats.com