Nov. 16, 2013
MIAA Champion Bearcats beat Missouri Western
By David Boyce | Northwest 51, Missouri Western 21 | Box Score
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - On January 15, 2013, the Northwest Missouri State football team met and talked about goals for the fall.
One of them was rising back to the top of the MIAA. In order to do that, the Bearcats knew they had to play a full 60 minutes of football.
The game that stuck in their stomach like a rotten pit was the 2012 regular-season finale at home against rival Missouri Western. The two teams were tied for first. Northwest went into halftime with a 17-point lead.
When the game ended, the Bearcats lost by one and watched the Griffons celebrate at Bearcat Stadium.
On Nov. 16, 2013, Northwest entered Spratt Stadium against rival Western with an opportunity to win the conference title outright.
Again, the Bearcats went into halftime with a 17-point lead.
Northwest came out in the second half and made a rousing statement: Not this time!
“We talked all week about being aggressive and playing to win,” Northwest coach Adam Dorrel said.
The Bearcats forced a three and out, got the ball and drove for a touchdown to solidify their lead. They proved beyond any doubt that they were once again kings of the MIAA, coming away with an impressive 51-21 resounding victory on a windy Saturday afternoon.
“This is a great feeling because January 15 we set this goal as a team,” said Northwest junior linebacker D.J. Gnader, who got to celebrate his 23rd birthday on Saturday with a victory.
“We had our ups and downs, but we played together tonight. We came out here and executed our game plan our coaches put out. At the end of the day, it is a great feeling to be back on top and bring the trophy back to Maryville where it belongs.”
Northwest finished the regular season 11-0 overall and 10-0 in the MIAA. For their splendid play throughout the regular season, the Bearcats put themselves in a position to earn a first-round bye in the Division II playoffs and likely home field advantage at least through quarterfinals.
From the start, it was the Bearcats’ day. They took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in seven plays and scored on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Trevor Adams with 11:33 left in the first quarter.
Adams showed in the first few drives that the 30 mph wind with gust up to 40 was not going to bother him.
“He is a West Texas kid,” Dorrel said. “He will tell you he is used to throwing in the wind. It was great to see. The wind didn’t affect him.”
To emphasis that point, Adams tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior Clint Utter with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter that increased the lead to 14-0.
“First of all, I just want to praise God for this win,” said Adams, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. “It is just so much fun being part of this team and this family.
“We knew all week it was going to be windy and might even rain. The last two games I played here were windy. Coaches had a great game plan for us. We were able to get some passes out there. The receivers did a great job making catches and the O-Line gave us a lot of time. We were able to get some completions in there.”
The only glimmer of hope for Western came midway through the second quarter when Raphael Spencer scored on a 1-yard run, making it 14-7 with 7:09 left.
With all the hard work the Bearcats put in during the winter, spring, summer and fall to make their goals stick, they weren’t about to let this lead slip away.
The Bearcats quickly answered Western with a 6 play, 60 yard drive that ended on a nice 25-yard pass from Adams to Reuben Thomas for a touchdown.
Northwest added a 36-yard field goal by Simon Mathieson with 2 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the Bearcats a 24-7 halftime lead.
A year ago, Northwest led 17-0 at halftime and lost 21-20.
Dorrel was going to talk about that during halftime. He didn’t have to. The seniors were already taking care of it.
“We learned from our mistakes last year,” Gnader said. “We have a lot of people who experienced that feeling last year. We sat down and said we have to keep our heads on straight. We have to finish. We have to finish. It is what we have been preaching since January 15.”
The Bearcats came out and the defense essential proved it had the offense’s back and then the offense showed it had the defense’s back.
A three and out followed by a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive gave the Bearcats complete command of the game.
“Our defense played awesome and offensively, we were able to put some drives together and put some more points up and that really helped us going forward in the game,” Adams said.
Northwest wasn’t done with its 31-7 lead. The Bearcats added another touchdown six minutes later for a 38-7 lead. They held a 44-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Northwest completed a remarkable regular season in which it came ready to play each Saturday regardless of the opponent.
The Bearcats completely dominated a very good Western team that finished the regular season 8-3. Northwest outgained the Griffons 493 to 293.
“This game meant a lot,” said senior defensive end Matt Meinert. “We have been thinking about it the whole year.”
Northwest controlled every phase of the game, including special teams. The Bearcats blocked two field goals and Mathieson made two field goals in windy conditions.
Like they have all season, the Bearcats won as a team.
“I have never been part of a team like this,” said senior defensive back Brian Dixon. “We are a family. Most teams cannot say that.”
It is why only one team is holding the MIAA trophy.
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