Sept. 1, 2011
Northwest rolls past Truman, 65-3
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. - A bit of mystery swirled around Northwest Missouri State football team when it cruised into Stokes Field Thursday evening.
The Bearcats brought a new head coach, a new starting quarterback and nine new starters on defense.
In addition, the numerous red hats worn by Northwest fans to pay tribute to Scott Bostwick was a reminder of his tragic heart attack that took his life and prevented him from leading the Bearcats.
The Northwest players delivered the best tribute of all with an impressive 65-3 victory over Truman in Adam Dorrel's head coaching debut.
"I had to gain my composure a little bit right before we talked to the team," Dorrel said. "I kept thinking about Scott. I know one of his first things when he took over was September 1st beat Truman State. It was very important to him. It was important to our kids.
"I was proud of our kids. I felt like they got off to a good start. We made some good plays early and it kind of snowballed on Truman."
Other than one minor hiccup, the Bearcats were in midseason, and at times, postseason form.
The one mistake came in Northwest's first drive. The Bearcats were marching down the field from their 24. One nice play was a 21-yard completion from Blake Christopher to Jake Soy. But the drive came to a screeching halt at Truman's 12 on a fumble off a bad exchange on a toss.
It only delayed the rout.
Northwest defense quickly stopped Truman and gave the ball back to the offense.
The Bearcats needed seven plays to go 51 yards and score on a 1-yard run by newcomer James Franklin. The first touchdown of the season came with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
Despite just a one-touchdown deficit, Truman was in deep trouble. Northwest was organized and disciplined on defense. They swarmed to the ball. They didn't over pursue. They tackled.
Truman didn't have an answer, which meant Northwest got the ball back on offense.
For fans of offense, that was a giddy situation. Christopher looked like he's been leading the Bearcats for three years.
"To come out here and play well, we couldn't be more excited," said Christopher, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
"We know this is just week one. We will enjoy this one and get ready for week two."
Northwest needed seven plays to go 73 yards in its second scoring drive. The touchdown was a 32-yard completion to Jordan Simmons that gave the Bearcats a 14-0 lead with 1:19 left in the first quarter.
The sequence just described was midseason form. What took place in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter was postseason form.
Nine seconds into the second quarter, freshman cornerback Jerry Key returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown.
"It really just happened. I was in the right place at the right time," Key said. "If it wasn't for my teammate making a good play on the receiver and the receiver tipping it, I probably wouldn't have made it."
The Bearcats were now in the process of treating the scoreboard like an old-fashioned pinball machine.
About 90 seconds later, Northwest capitalized on another Truman turnover and scored on a 3-yard run by Simmons.
Three minutes after that score, Christopher and Tyler Shaw hooked up on a beautiful 49-yard touchdown reception that put the Bearcats up 35-0 with 10:18 left in the second quarter.
"It was good to get that first monkey off your back," Shaw said. "You come into the game all hyper and jittery. Once you get that first touch, it calms you down. The fact that it was a touchdown makes it that much more special."
The Northwest defense must have gotten a tad jealous. Less than a minute later junior safety Nate DeJong returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bearcats a commanding 42-0 lead with still 9:21 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bearcats went into halftime up 49-3.
For all those wondering if Northwest was headed for a demise because of all the changes must now begin to accept that the Bearcats are still roaring.
The win pushed Northwest's MIAA record win streak to 47. On this night, there was no Truman miracle.
A decade ago, Truman stunned the Bearcats in Maryville with a 24-23 victory that snapped Northwest's 42-game conference winning streak, which was a record.
Overall, it was a near-perfect evening for the Northwest players. They earned it and deserved it given what they went through in early June.
"Pretty much we came out here with something to prove," Shaw said. "They figured since Coach T is not here anymore the MIAA is not going to be controlled by us anymore.
"We came out here and played for our teammates, our coaches and Coach Bostwick."
Mel Tjeerdsma, the architect of the Northwest football dynasty, is happy in Texas that the program is moving forward nicely.
And the spirit of Scott Bostwick is somewhere up above smiling.
"I think this is a first step and he would say the same thing," said Northwest defensive coordinator Rich Wright, who worked with Bostwick since 2004. "It's one football game in a very long season.
"It wasn't about one game. It's about the journey. That's what Scott would have been all about, too."
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