October 23, 2004
Northwest Earns 45-42 Win in Hickory Stick Battle over Truman StateKIRKSVILLE, Mo. - Let the records be thrown out when it comes to the playing of the 84th edition of the Hickory Stick. No. 3 Northwest Missouri State University, who is on a 12-game winning streak, used a fourth-down one-yard plunge from redshirt freshman Xavier Omon with 24 seconds remaining to take a 45-42 win against winless Truman State this afternoon at Stokes Stadium. The Hickory Stick rivalry is the longest running in NCAA Division II - Truman State still leads the overall series 54-26-4.
The Bearcats improve to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA while the Bulldogs drop to 0-9 and 0-7 in league action. Northwest now has gone 9-0 or better to start a season for the 10th time in school history.
In his first career start, redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Mathews calmly led the 'Cats on a game-winning eight-play, 70-yard march in 2:31 with the Omon capper. After a false start penalty and a first and 15 at the Northwest 25, Mathews went four-for-four for 70 yards completing two passes to senior Jamaica Rector, one to Omon and then a 35-yard strike to junior Andre Rector which put the ball at the Truman five-yard line. From there, it was four straight running plays up the gut for Omon, the last a leap over the pile as Northwest retained the Hickory Stick for the third straight time and eight in the last nine years.
Omon notched his first rushing TD, a 52-yard jaunt with 5:35 left in the first quarter to put Northwest up 7-0. Senior Morris White tacked on the 'Cats second score on a 16-yard reception from Mathews at the 4:01 mark of the first. From there, it looked as if the third-ranked offense in the country would roll to an easy win.
But Truman State responded with 14 points in the second quarter to bring the score 24-14 at halftime in favor of Northwest.
Each team swapped touchdown scores in the second half on five occasions. After a Jerard Leverson 1-yard TD run brought the hosts to within a 38-35 score with 6:20 showing on the fourth quarter clock, the Bulldog defense was able to hold Northwest to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
After a Joel Mathews 50-yard punt against heavy winds, Truman began a 4-play, 73-yard drive at its own 27-yard line with 4:44 to go in the game. The Bulldogs put their Homecoming crowd in to a frenzy after a Justin Bodenhausen 50-yard TD catch from QB Jake Czeschin to put Truman up 42-38 with 3:01 remaining.
However, Mathews and the Northwest offense still had one more answer to keep the Bearcat hopes to host a playoff game still in sight.
The Bulldogs received the ball after the Bearcat score with 20 seconds remaining but a fumble by Bodenhausen on a 1st and 10 catch was recovered by Northwest's Chad Bostwick and smothered any Truman comeback ideas.
Omon became the first freshman running back in 'Cat history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards with his 169 yards on 28 carries on the day. He currently holds 1,062 yards in 2004, which puts him sixth on the Northwest single season rushing chart. The 100-yard game was the fifth of his career and fourth straight.
Jamaica Rector finished with his 21st career 100-yard receiving game corralling seven passes for 106 yards and one score. His performance moved him to 10 straight games with at least one TD catch. He added 127 return yards, 88 on punt returns, to move him into first-place on the Northwest career punt return yardage list (1,343 yards).
Mathews recorded 252 yards on 22-of-31 passing, tossing three TD's on the day.
Truman quarterback Jake Czeschin went for a MIAA single-game record 479 yards, breaking Northwest John McMenamin's (1999-2002) mark of 477 yards. Czeschin threw four touchdowns on 35-of-60 passing with two INT's.
On defense, junior Dave Tollefson recorded his team-leading 6.5 sack of the season - he entered the contest tied for second in the MIAA in sacks per game (0.69). Bostwick posted 11 total tackles and recovered one fumble. Kelly Williams and Tyler Martin each had INTs of Czeschin.
Next up for the Bearcats is an away game at Southwest Baptist, Oct. 30. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Bolivar, Mo.
Notes: Junior QB Josh Lamberson sat out his first game in 2004 with a right hip injury - he is expected to miss the rest of the year…Jamaica Rector ties the MIAA career touchdown reception mark (regular season games) with 33 TD's - he looks up at Northwest's Tony Miles who holds 37 career TD catches (all games)…Luis Berlanga becomes the all-time leader for consecutive PAT's made as he passed Northwest's David Parnell in 1999 with a 56-of-56 mark - Berlanga finished his day six-of-six to put him at 61 straight…Truman State wide receiver Jeff Amundson went for 14 catches and 188 receiving yards - the most for a Northwest opponent this season…The 42 points scored by Truman is the most for a 2004 opposition and the highest since Central Missouri State went for 52 points in Week 3 of the 2003 season…The 12-game winning streak is the third longest active stretch in NCAA Division II - Texas A&M Kingsville and Albany State (Ga.) entered the day at 15 and 14 respectively…The 9-0 start ties the 1931, 1938 and 1939 clubs for the seventh-best start in school history… Northwest was out-gained in total yardage (528-415) for the first time this season and first in 10 games…The Bearcats trailed for just the third time this season after Truman went up 42-38 - the 'Cats have been down a total of 9:30 this season.
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