Nov. 16, 2012
Bearcats ready with new life vs. Bisons
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m.
Stadium: Bearcat Stadium
Radio: Bearcat Radio Network
John Coffey (play-by-play), Matt Gaarder (color), Matt Brown (sideline);
Heard on on seven stations that covers four states in the Midwest, and on the Internet from the flagship station KXCV.
Rankings (AFCA/D2Football/NCAA Super Region 3):
Series: Both teams have never met.
Northwest: Adam Dorrel (Northwest '97) 20-4 (2nd season)
Harding: Ronnie Huckeba (Harding '78) 31-30 (6th season)
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
The sting of falling just shy of capturing the MIAA regular-season title quickly faded when Northwest Missouri State football team saw the NCAA Division II playoff pairings Sunday afternoon.
The Bearcats figured they would still make the playoffs despite suffering their second loss of the season on the final regular season game.
Northwest didn’t expect its first playoff game would be at Bearcat Stadium. Northwest, 9-2, takes on Harding, 9-1, noon Saturday.
“The fact we got a home game is almost kind of crazy,” said Northwest sophomore defensive back Travis Manning. “Everybody was jumping and yelling in the room.
“We are extremely excited that we get to play at home. It is going to be awesome for our seniors. They really deserve it.”
The seniors have been the glue to the Bearcats all season. They took control of the team after Northwest lost its second game of the season. They certainly didn’t enjoy the fact that their final regular season game at home ended in a 21-20 loss to Missouri Western.
Northwest seniors want their final time walking off Bearcat Stadium to be a win. They received another opportunity to make it happen.
“It is amazing in this profession there are so many ups and downs,” Northwest coach Adam Dorrel said. “On Sunday, when the pairings came out and see the excitement on their faces, especially the seniors, they were genuinely ecstatic about getting another home game.
“The fact we got the fourth seed and we are playing at home, I couldn’t be happier. It was a shot in the arm for our kids and our staff and for me.”
One reason Northwest has enjoyed such a successful season when it looked like it could have been mediocre after the second week is because the Bearcats learned from that loss.
The Bearcats took stock why they fell short a week ago. They dominated the game until the final 7 minutes when Western put together two, long touchdown scoring drives.
“We learned we can’t go to sleep at the end of the game,” Manning said. “We have to finish the game. We have to play all four quarters and execute. At the end of the game, our execution was not as good as it should have been. We let them back into it.”
Once the Bearcats found out that Harding was their next opponent, the focus went to the Bison.
“They were obviously disappointed,” Dorrel said. “I had 10 minutes with them on Sunday and then the pairings came out and it was let’s go, let’s get to the weight room.”
Northwest received film of Harding on Sunday and the coaches and the players began studying their next opponent.
“The team we are playing runs the triple option, similar to Missouri Southern,” Manning said. “We really focused on assignment football and everybody is focused on their job. We did pretty well with their option so we should be pretty good this weekend.”
Northwest knows how to prepare for the playoffs. It is the Bearcats ninth straight appearance in the Division II playoffs. They don’t take postseason for granted. They expect to make it, but they know it is hard to get there.
Pittsburg State is a perfect example of how tough it is to advance to the playoffs. Last year the Gorillas won the national championship and this year their season ended last week.
“We reset for the playoffs,” Dorrel said. “We talk about raising our level. We need to do that. We need to get over the regular season, the good and the bad because everybody in the playoffs is good. Everybody right now is 0-0.”
The Bearcats are ready for the extremely hard work that comes with advancing through the playoffs. Each game becomes more difficult as the pressure to reach the championship game rises.
“We want to go out with a bang and show our conference is the best,” Manning said.
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