October 16, 2004
Freshmen Step up in 31-13 Bearcat Win
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Red-shirt freshman running back Xavier Omon scored twice and red-shirt freshman quarterback Josh Mathews stepped in for injured Josh Lamberson as he tossed for 149 yards and one score in the 31-13 Northwest Missouri State win over Missouri Western this afternoon.
No. 4 Northwest, who avenged a 30-27 overtime loss to the Griffons last year, improve to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the MIAA. Meanwhile, Missouri Western drops to 4-4 and 3-3 in league play.
The Bearcats extended their winning streak to 11 games thanks in large part to a stifling defense that held the Griffons to just 89 rushing yards on 32 attempts. The Griffons entered the game 29th in the country with 205.6 rushing yards per contest.
The Northwest offense struck early once again, the sixth time in seven games it has scored before the opposition. The 'Cats went up 7-0 after Omon took it in from 2-yards out with 9:29 left in the first quarter. That score was set up by a Pat Whitt interception of Griffon QB Kyle Westerberg at the Northwest 40-yard line. It was Whitt's second INT of the season, tying him with senior Gabriel Helms and senior Troy Tysdahl for the team lead.
Holding Missouri Western to 18 yards on the ensuing possession, the Bearcat defense gave its offense the ball back on the home 39-yard line. Seven plays later, Omon notched his second rushing TD of the day and 12th of the season to put the hosts up 14-0 at the 3:07 mark in the first quarter.
On that scoring drive, a scary play occurred for Northwest. Junior QB Josh Lamberson, who leads the nation in pass efficiency (191.6), went down with a right hip injury at the 3:42 mark. He did not return to the game.
Mo. Western had a priming scoring opportunity after a blocked punt of senior Joel Mathews. The guests recovered at the Northwest 30-yard line. However, a 36-yard field goal attempt by Westerberg sailed wide left.
Northwest went into the locker room with a 17-0 halftime lead thanks to a 29-yard field goal by senior Luis Berlanga. It was his ninth field goal on the year in 10 attempts - his one miss was blocked. The Monterrey, Mex., native also hit four-of-four PAT's on the day to push his consecutive PAT string to 55 - the school and MIAA record is 56 in a season by David Purnell in 1999 and 60 in a career by David Purnell.
Defense was the theme once again for the Bearcats as Tysdahl picked off Westerberg and returned it 45-yards to put Northwest up 24-0 at the 10:19 mark in the third quarter. Tysdahl, lined up in a right defensive end position, leapt up and batted the ball with his left hand and caught it before his weave to the endzone. It was the first defensive score since Andrew McIntyre returned a blocked punt 17-yards against Emporia State two weeks ago.
The 'Cats tacked on its final score with senior Jamaica Rector getting a nine-yard feed from Mathews. That put the Bearcats up 31-0 with 14:44 left in the final stanza.
The Griffons broke up the Northwest bid for a shutout with a Jon Schoonover 2-yard catch with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter and Michael Cooper one-yard burst at the 1:08 mark.
On the day, Rector caught six balls for 64 yards and one score. His yardage put him over the 4,000 yard mark in his career, just the seventh player in NCAA Division II history to accomplish such a feat. He stands with 4,013 yards. His TD catch also puts him one shy of the Northwest single season record of 11 and one away from the MIAA career clip (regular season) of 33 TDs.
Omon finished with 129 yards on a season-high 28 carries for a 4.6 yard average. The Beatrice, Neb. native has now reached 100 rushing yards in three straight games and stands 16 yards away from the Northwest single season rushing top 10 list - he has totaled 893 yards.
Defensively, senior Chad Bostwick became the second 'Cat to reach double-digit tackles on the season with a game-high 10.0. Senior Adam Long came away with 6.5 total tackles including one for a loss and four passes defended.
The Bearcats will hit the road for the remaining three regular season contests. First, they travel to Kirksville, Mo., Oct. 23 for a date with Truman State. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m. in Hickory Stick rivalry.
Notes: Northwest improves to 14-10 in the overall series - the 18 point margin of victory is the largest since Northwest won 46-27 in 2000...Missouri Western was the last opponent to beat the Bearcats - a string of 12 games...Jamaica Rector has at least one TD catch in nine of his last 10 games and at least five receptions in nine straight...20 Northwest seniors were honored in a special pre-game ceremony - it was the final regular season home game at Bearcat Stadium...Berlanga has hit nine-of-10 field goals this season - the school record is 15 FG's done by Eddie Ibarra in 2001...Northwest has out-scored the opposition 249-48 in the first half this season...The 349 yards of total offense is a season low for Northwest - the 'Cats entered the game averaging 521.9 yards...Xavier Omon has averaged 151 yards in each of his last three games...Northwest was whistled for more penalty yards (138-69) than the opposition for the eighth consecutive game...Northwest was just 2-of-11 on third down conversions but four-of-four on red-zone opportunities...The 57 pass attempts by Griffon QBs is a Northwest opponent season high.
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