September 11, 2004
Northwest Triumphs Over Central Missouri, 38-20
WARRENSBURG, Mo. - In a game that saw four lead changes, the No. 11 Northwest Missouri State Bearcats got their revenge with a 38-20 MIAA victory over No. 7 Central Missouri State tonight. The Mules scored 28 fourth-quarter points to take a 52-24 win in Maryville, Mo., last season.
NWMSU, which racked up 424 yards and was ranked 25th in the country with 448.5 yards, improves to 3-0 on the young season . With the third-best overall defense in NCAA Division II, Central Missouri State drops to 2-1 overall.
Freshman red-shirt running back Xavier Omon opened up the scoring with his second rushing touchdown of the year, a one-yard plunge, capping a seven-play 42-yard drive. It was the fourth straight game that Northwest has scored first, dating back to the season-ending win against Pittsburg State last year.
The score was made possible after a Chad Bostwick fumble recovery on Central's second drive of the game. Northwest missed an opportunity to get great field position after CMSU running back Jimmy Conner fell on his own fumble just 3:39 into the contest. Instead the Mules punted from the 'Cats 47-yard line as punter Jason Brown put the visitors back on their own 26.
Central Missouri struck back with a 46-yard screen pass from QB Jimmy Sangster to Lee Thompson to notch the score at 7-7.
After both teams traded punts, the Bearcats methodically drove 80 yards on 12 plays with junior QB Josh Lamberson weaving in for the score from eight yards out. During the drive, Lamberson connected with All-America receiver Jamaica Rector for 19 yards on a pivotal 3rd and 10 from the CMSU 41-yard line.
The Mules pulled within a 14-10 halftime deficit on a Brandon Starks 20-yard field goal with three seconds left in the second quarter. The Mules scored after a 97-yard 11-play scoring drive.
The third quarter began in dismal fashion for the Bearcats as Shon Wells coughed up the ball on his own 17-yard line - it was the second play of the second half. Lee Thompson made sure it was a huge mistake, converting the turnover into a 12-yard rushing TD to put the Mules up 17-14 with 13:30 remaining in the third.
From there, it was all Northwest as it scored 24 of the games final 27 points.
Omon went in for the score untouched from eight-yards out to give the 'Cats a 21-17 edge at the 8:39 mark of the third.
CMSU's Starks pulled the hosts to within a point, hitting on a 45-yard field goal attempt with just under six minutes left in the third quarter. The Mules hurt themselves with a holding penalty that negated a rush by Sangster in which the QB reached the Bearcat two-yard line.
Using his arm and eluding the Mule rush, Lamberson connected with senior tight end Aaron Froehlich from 11-yards out to put the 'Cats up 28-20 with 2:21 showing in the third period. On his fifth TD toss of the year, Lamberson initially scrambled to the right, slipped through two defenders, reversed his direction and found Froehlich in the left corner of the end zone.
Senior place-kicker Luis Berlanga, who holds the league PAT mark of 11, pushed the Bearcat lead to 11 with a 34-yard field goal with 8:12 remaining in the contest.
The Bearcats used some trickery to tack on the game's last score. Berlanga lined up for a 20-yard field goal under two minutes remaining. Lamberson, who was the holder, took the snap and hit Froehlich for a 20-yard strike.
Lamberson finished with a 12-of-19 effort for 150 yards and two TDs. Omon became the first 'Cat back since 1999 to go over the 200-yard barrier with 221 yards on 25 rushes. Jamaica Rector led all receivers with 85 yards on five catches.
The 'Cat defense held the Mules to 325 yards on 74 plays for a 4.4 average.
Notes: Northwest improves to 46-33-2 in the overall series…The 12-play, 80 yard scoring strike in the second quarter was Northwest's second longest drive (plays) on the season…Senior wide receiver Jamaica Rector moved to second-place on the MIAA career receiving list (all games) with his 86 yards tonight - he stands with 3,478 yards; Rector looks up at fellow Bearcat Tony Miles for tops on the chart - Miles has 3,890 yards…Attendance of 12,349 set a MIAA regular-season game played on-campus…Central Missouri State's defense had pitched two shutouts in the first two games this season…Xavier Omon is the first 'Cat running back to go over 200 rushing yards since Ryan Hackett went for 217 against Southwest Baptist, Sept. 25, 1999… After netting for 343 rushing yards through the first two games, the Bearcats recorded 274 yards tonight…The 'Cats have won six straight overall, dating back to last season…Head coach Mel Tjeerdsma, who is 5-0 in MIAA openers on the road, moves to 99 career wins at Northwest - he is the school holder…Josh Lamberson moved to 10th on the NWMSU career passing list as he sits with 2,478 yards…In the last 11 seasons under coach Tjeerdsma, the 'Cats have now gone 3-0 on six occasions.
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