Oct. 28, 2012
Second to none
By David Boyce
TOPEKA, Kan. – On the third play of the game, Northwest Missouri State senior safety Clarke Snodgrass watched Washburn’s Tore’ Hurst haul in a 26-yard reception.
Hurst jumped up at the Bearcats’ 35 excited and in his excitement, he spoke a few words to Snodgrass.
Maybe Hurst was keyed up Saturday afternoon at Yager Stadium because it was Homecoming for Washburn. Perhaps Hurst was happy because he made a great catch on a perfectly thrown ball that was actually covered well by Snodgrass.
“He made a good play, a good catch,” Snodgrass said. “I was right there on his hip. I just didn’t get my hip around enough.”
Whatever the reason, the Bearcats secondary played a menacing brand of football the rest of the first half, which helped Northwest build a 35-0 halftime lead.
Northwest picked off four passes in the first two quarters and finished with six in a 56-6 victory.
Afterwards, the players on the secondary praised secondary coach Ken Gordon.
“My position coach Ken Gordon, you can’t believe the amount of tips he gives us safeties,” Snodgrass said.
It was fitting that Snodgrass started the amazing run of first-half interceptions by the Bearcats.
One play after Hurst’s reception, Snodgrass picked off a pass and gave Northwest its first possession at its 45.
“Oh yes, it fired me up,” Snodgrass said. “You always want to respond when you have a big play made on you.”
Six plays later, the Bearcats scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Adams to Tyler Shaw with 10:52 remaining in the first quarter.
The quick strike by Northwest was no indication that a rout was underway. After all, both teams entered the late-season MIAA game with a 7-1 overall record.
Washburn even had an opportunity to tie late in the first quarter after a Northwest fumble put the ball at the 6.
Despite being only 6 yards away from the end zone, Washburn never really got close to scoring a touchdown in the first half.
On the next play after the fumble, sophomore strong safety Travis Manning intercepted a pass in the end zone.
“That was big time,” Snodgrass said. “We really welcome those kinds of opportunities. That’s the strength of our defense.”
Northwest was ready to roll.
Manning said it is all about momentum. The defense wanted to get the ball back to its offense as quick as possible.
“We support our offense whatever they do,” Manning said. “We know we put them in place they will eventually make plays, which they did. They have been doing it all season. They lift us up. We lift them up.”
The Bearcats went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive and scored on a 7-yard run by James Franklin early in the second quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, senior free safety Nate DeJong joined the interception parade and his pick-off gave the Bearcats the ball at Washburn’s 22.
Three plays later, Northwest was ahead 21-0 and well on its way to improving to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the MIAA. The Bearcats are now in a three-way tie for first with Emporia State and Missouri Western. Washburn dropped to 7-2 in the MIAA.
Even though Northwest was in position to look ahead to next week’s Homecoming game at Bearcat Stadium against Emporia State, the players remained locked in against Washburn.
With 2 minutes left in the first half, the Bearcats scored again and led 28-0 and still were not done. Junior cornerback Brian Dixon intercepted a pass deep in Washburn’s territory.
It only took Northwest 15 seconds to go 23 yards and score with 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Northwest picked off its fifth pass. This time senior linebacker Collin DeBuysere caught the errant throw.
“We knew the defensive backs were playing well in the first half,” DeBuysere said. “We wanted to make sure that we were playing consistent and doing a good job as linebackers as well. That was our focus, and we got a couple of linebackers in the mix as well in the second half.”
The final interception of the game came from sophomore linebacker Chet Meneely, who returned the pick-off 14 yards for a touchdown with 1:26 left for the final score.
All in all, it was the type of defensive performance that makes a coach proud. Gordon was definitely pleased by the way his group played.
“They were doing their job,” Gordon said. “They do a lot of film work and they pay attention to details. They did what we do in practice and put it on the field.
“They picked it up another level today. It was great to see. I’m happy for them. All this is going to do is build confidence. They just got to keep getting better. That’s all I ask of them.”
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