November 27, 2004
Northwest Ends Season With 50-36 Setback to Pittsburg State in NCAA Playoff SemifinalsPITTSBURG, Kan. - Special teams was not so special today as there were a combined three PAT attempts blocked, one punt blocked and one field goal blocked and No. 1 Pittsburg State scored 29 second-half points en route to the 50-36 victory over No. 4 Northwest Missouri State this afternoon at Carnie Smith Stadium in the NCAA Division II Semifinals. Northwest came into the game as the No. 2 seed in the Southwest Region while Pitt State was the top seed.
Northwest ends its season at 11-2 overall while Pitt State improves to 13-0 and awaits the winner of the Northeast Region between North Dakota and Grand Valley State.
"We had our chances,"said head coach Mel Tjeerdsma in the post-game press conference. "Unfortunately, when you are not solid in special teams and you turn the ball over, you are not going to win the game. But I was proud of our effort and Pittsburg State is a good football team."
The guests from Northwest took the Pitt State crowd out of it in the early going. After holding Pitt State to five plays on its opening drive, three straight pass plays from redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Mathews with the last being a 18-yard hook-up to senior wide receiver Jamaica Rector, put the Bearcats up 7-0 at the 12:38 mark of the first quarter.
Senior placekicker Luis Berlanga hit a 51-yard field goal with 4:10 left in the first stanza to give the guests a quick 10-0 edge. The field goal was Berlanga's second 50-plus yarder in the playoffs as he hit a school playoff-best 51-yard attempt last week against Texas A&M Kingsville.
From there, the Gorillas scored the next 14 points on two passing touchdowns from junior quarterback Andy Majors. The first was a one-yarder at the 14:21 mark of the second, the other covering 58 yards less than 2:30 later.
Trailing 14-10, the Bearcats marched 97 yards on 12 plays, chewing up 5:28 of the clock capped by a one-yard Xavier Omon run at 1:44 of the second stanza.
Just 1:02 later, the Bearcat defense forced a three-and-out in Pittsburg State territory. The Gorilla offense lined up in punt formation on fourth-down with Majors back approximately eight yards from scrimmage. Majors rolled right looking for a receiver but pulled up to get a kick off. Senior Morris White blocked the punt attempt and freshman E.J. Falkner scooped up the loose ball and ran in from 29-yards out to give the guests a 23-14 lead with :42 seconds remaining.
The ensuing play from scrimmage had junior defensive back Kelly Williams pick-off a Majors pass as the Bearcats had the ball near midfield with under :35 seconds left. However, Mathews was intercepted on his next pass attempt and the Gorillas punched it in from three-yards out to make the score 23-21 in favor of Northwest at the half.
Out of the locker room, Northwest scored on a Mike Tiehen fumble-recovery from 16-yards out to make the Northwest lead its biggest at 29-21. However, the PAT attempt was blocked and PSU's Eric Wright returned it for two points.
Wright's special teams play seemed to ignite the Gorilla squad as the hosts scored 21 of the game's final 28 points to take the Semifinal win.
The game was not decided until the Pittsburg State defense stepped up late. Northwest was driving in an attempt to tie the game up at 36. However, a Mathews pass to junior wide receiver Andre Rector in the left front corner of the end zone with 4:23 remaining was intercepted by linebacker Chad Miller.
The Gorillas then sealed the playoff victory with a 25-yard TD rumble by senior quarterback Neal Philpot on their ensuing possession.
Mathews finished with a personal-high 290 yards on 19-of-34 passing with one TD and three interceptions. Jamaica Rector tallied nine catches for 82 yards and brother Andre Rector notched 143 receiving yards on five receptions. Omon came away with 85 rushing yards on 24 carries and he saw the endzone twice.
Defensively, senior Troy Tysdahl and sophomore Darcell Clark finished with eight total tackles apiece.
Notes: Northwest drops to 4-4 all-time in playoff games away from Bearcat Stadium - the trip to Pittsburg, Kan., marks the second trip to a league foe's home stadium in a playoff; the other prior meeting occurred on Nov. 18, 1989 when Northwest dropped a 28-7 decision…The Bearcats are now 12-7 all-time in the playoffs…The 11 season wins is the seventh time the Bearcats have tallied 11 or more victories with all seven of those occasions coming during head coach Mel Tjeerdsma's reign as skipper (1994-2004)…Senior kicker Luis Berlanga broke the NCAA all division mark (Division IA, IAA, II and III) for consecutive PAT's in a season (73) by making his first two on the afternoon - the old all division record was 71 set by Bart Edmiston of Florida in 1995…Berlanga's third and fourth PAT attempt's of the day were blocked and had a 46-yard attempt blocked in the third quarter…Starting Gorilla quarterback Neal Philpot came out late in the first quarter with what appeared to be a head injury but came back to start out of the halftime break…Pitt State, who leads the country in rushing offense (373.0 yards) per game, totaled just 102 yards in the first 30 minutes…Both of Northwest's losses this year have come at the hands of the Gorillas - that is after Northwest won seven straight in the series against Pitt State
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