Oct. 26, 2013
Creason, Defense Star in Homecoming VictoryBox Score | Fan Photos
By David Boyce
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Thanksgiving came about a month early for the Northwest Missouri State defensive line.
Excuse the cliché, but the Northwest front line must have been licking their chops Saturday afternoon when Missouri Southern entered Bearcat Stadium running a triple option offense. Although the Lions broke off a couple of nice runs, they were stuffed by the Bearcats much of the game. It was another impressive performance as Northwest won, 43-7, in front of 8,257 fans on a gorgeous Homecoming afternoon in Maryville.
“I am so proud of these kids. This isn’t an easy offense to prepare for,” said Northwest defensive coordinator Rich Wright. “They deserve 100 percent of the credit. They are the ones who busted their tails all week watching the film and the ones who had to execute responsibility football, which is what it takes to be successful against the option.
“They played physical. They flew around to the football and did an awesome job today.”
Northwest, ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division II in the AFCA Coaches Poll, improved to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA.
Offensively, senior running back Billy Creason was the star. He was selected MVP of the Homecoming game and received the Don Black Award. Creason finished with 94 total yards and scored a touchdown on the ground and one receiving.
But as a unit, Northwest defense played the lead role in the victory.
The Bearcats went five straight quarters without giving up a point until the Lions scored a meaningless touchdown with 4 minutes left in the game.
“We are always looking for the challenge,” said linebacker Eric Reimer. “They put up a ton of yardage running every week. Our goal was to stop them and be physical upfront. Our D-line did an awesome job of creating chaos.”
Despite the one-sided score, Northwest needed to play well in the third quarter to come away with an easy win.
Leading 17-0 at halftime, the Bearcats took their game to another level in the third quarter. Northwest allowed no yards passing in the first half and that continued in the third quarter. The Lions only picked up 41 yards on the ground in the third quarter.
“It is awesome to go against a team that wants to be physical and run it up on you,” said defensive lineman Matt Longacre. “We stopped it fairly well today. They still got yards on us, but we feel very confident going into the next few games that we can stop the run.”
Meanwhile, the Bearcats really got on track on offense. They scored two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter and built a commanding 29-0 lead.
“We always harp on the first drive of the second half is the most important of the game,” said wide receiver Bryce Young, who scored on an 8-yard run that capped a 5-play, 53-yard drive that took just 1 minute, 20 seconds at the start of the third quarter.
“As an offense, we drove down and scored and did a really good job of putting them away and put some doubt in their minds.”
Northwest tacked on two more touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. It was their sixth blowout in their last seven games.
The game was fairly close in the first half. In fact, the Lions had a chance to close to within three-points early in the second quarter.
Once again, the defense showed its toughness when it stopped Southern from punching in a touchdown on 4th and goal from the 1.
It made sense for the Lions to go for it. They were trailing 10-0 and figured they needed a touchdown to keep pace with Northwest.
After all, Southern watched the Bearcats take their first possession at the 39 and needed only 2:08 to go 61 yards and score on a 3-yard run by Robert Burton. The extra point gave Northwest a 7-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the game and the Bearcats kicked off.
“It was big because at the time, the game was relatively tight,” Wright said. “If they get a score, they are right back in the game. One thing we talk about is never conceding anything.”
The Lions, though, had one final chance after they failed to score on the goal line. They stopped Northwest and then got the ball at the Bearcats 47.
But the Northwest defense was too much for the Lions to generate consistent offense.
Southern, though, was also playing pretty good defense, stopping the Bearcats.
So it was time for Northwest special teams to step up. Creason was credited with a blocked punt and that gave Northwest great field position.
It only took one play for Creason to rush for a 5-yard touchdown that gave Northwest a 17-0 lead with 9:27 left in the second quarter.
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