Sept. 5, 2013
Football Opens Season with Strong Win Over SVSUBy David Boyce | Box Score | Photo Gallery
MARYVILLE, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State showed its mark of being a good team early in the third quarter Thursday evening in front of 6,821 fans at Bearcat Stadium in the season-opener against Saginaw Valley, 45-24.
The Cardinals stopped Northwest in the first possession of the second half. Saginaw then went 74 yards in six plays for a touchdown with a 11:40 left in the third.
Even though the Bearcats still held an 11-point lead, the momentum had clearly shifted to Saginaw. One miscue or poor offensive series and Northwest was looking at a nail biter.
The Bearcats quickly took the suspense out of the game when senior quarterback Trevor Adams tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass to senior Clint Utter.
It took Northwest less than two minutes to regain an 18-point lead. Saginaw Valley never recovered as the Bearcats came away with an impressive 45-24 victory.
“The momentum switched our way and that is huge in football,” Utter said. “When that happened, everybody got hyped on the sideline and our crowd got hyped. When it gets loud, it can mess with some team’s head.
“They are a tough team and we kept playing harder and harder and got the victory.”
Adams completed 15 of 20 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. Utter caught four passes for 160 yards.
“The offensive line did a phenomenal job,” Adams said. “The backs did a great job picking up blitzes. We prepared as a unit.”
While the Bearcats weren’t perfect, it was the perfect type of first game that the Northwest players and coaches can gain plenty from.
“I’m very proud of our kids effort,” Northwest head coach Adam Dorrel said.”We put a lot of preparation in this first game and it started in spring practice. I’d also like to thank our strength and conditioning coach. I try to give Joe Quinlin the game ball but he had already left. I thought our kids’ conditioning took over in the second, third and fourth quarters. That is a testament to our kids’ work ethic."
Northwest showed signs of a potent offense in weeks to come and a defense that could make stops when it absolutely needs to.
But the Bearcats made enough errors on both sides of the ball that the coaches will use to get Northwest ready for an early-season showdown against Central Missouri on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. In a shocking development, the game against the Mules will be played in Maryville. The previous three regular-season meetings with UCM have been in Warrensburg, Mo.
“It has been awhile since we played them at home,” Dorrel said. “The last time was in the playoffs in 2010. We are just excited to be home against a great conference opponent. Hopefully, we will have another great crowd at Bearcat Stadium.”
Against Saginaw Valley, the Bearcats showed another trait of a good team. Key players made big plays at important times.
Obviously, the long touchdown pass from Adams to Utter was huge in the third quarter.
But most of the game-changing plays by the Bearcats came in the second quarter when they needed to gain control of the game.
“The block punt for a touchdown and a block field goal for a touchdown were huge. Getting 14 points on special team is unbelievable,” Dorrel said. “I was proud of our kids there.
“We talked about winning the turnover battle. We didn’t turn the ball over once and got turnover on defense.”
Judging by Northwest’s sizeable 35-17 halftime lead, it is a bit hard to believe the score was so one sided unless you were there and witnessed Saginaw Valley’s gritty effort.
In fact, the Cardinals scored the first points of the game on a 28-yard field goal a little more than three minutes into the game.
The Bearcats answered four minutes later on a two-yard run by senior running back Billy Creason, giving Northwest its first lead of the season at 7-3.
Northwest, though, had to fight from another deficit when the Cardinals scored four minutes later. It was that type of first half. Northwest led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter and was clinging to a 21-17 lead with just under five minutes left in the second quarter.
Obviously, the Bearcats finished the half strong. With 2:32 left in the second quarter, junior running back Robert Burton scored his second touchdown of game on a 13-yard run that gave the Bearcats a 28-17 lead.
And just before the second quarter ended, the biggest play of the half occurred for the Bearcats when senior defensive back Brandon Dixon recovered a fumble and raced 70 yards for a touchdown with 10 seconds before halftime.
“I saw the ball, picked it up and ran for a touchdown,” Dixon said.
The late scores were important because the Cardinals demonstrated an explosive offense.
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