Sept. 2, 2006
Northwest Football Opens 2006 With 31-14 Win Over Minnesota State
MARYVILLE, Mo. - (game stats) A roughing-the-kicker penalty allowed Northwest Missouri State to extend a possession early in the fourth quarter, and four plays later, junior quarterback Josh Mathews hooked up with junior tight end Mike Peterson from 34 yards out propelling Northwest to a 31-14 non-conference win over Minnesota State University, Mankato this afternoon at Bearcat Stadium. Northwest extends its winning streak versus Minnesota State to seven games and moves to 24-10-6 all-time in home season-openers.
The Peterson touchdown handed Northwest a 24-14 edge with 9:45 remaining and gave momentum for the Bearcat defense. On the ensuing MSU possession, junior linebacker Jared Erspamer notched his second career interception, picking off a Ben King attempt at the Northwest 37-yard line. After a rush for no yards, Mathews found sophomore wide receiver Kendall Wright streaking down the middle on a post-pattern and 63 yards later, Northwest padded its lead to 31-14 with 7:55 left.
Northwest, who moves to 1-0 overall, hosts No. 11 Nebraska-Omaha next Saturday (Sept. 9) at 1 p.m. Minnesota State falls to 1-1 on the year.
Junior running back Xavier Omon, who went for his 16th career 100-yard rushing game, put Northwest up early with a 5-yard run at the 10:03 mark in the first. That play capped a 10 play, 45 yard march on the Bearcats first offensive possession of the season. The lead expanded to 14-0 late in the first after Omon caught a 3-yard toss.
MSU used a bit of trickery to cut into the lead early in the second quarter. Tyrell Smith took a lateral pass at the Northwest 20-yard line and found Joshua Bryant open in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring strike. Sophomore kicker Tommy Frevert gave Northwest a 17-14 lead at the half after MSU tied the score at 14-14 on a 12-yard pass.
Both offenses were stagnant in the third quarter. On 13 plays from scrimmage, Northwest averaged 4.5 yards while MSU went for 4.6 per play including a lost fumble by Bryan Dalton. The Bearcats were unable to take advantage of the turnover however, the second of the day for MSU, as Northwest turned the ball over on downs after stalling at the MSU 40.
Omon finished with 112 yards on 28 carries (4.0 ypc) and took over the Northwest career rushing mark (regular season) - he stands with 2,474 career yards. After being No. 2 on the depth chart last season, Mathews started under center and went 17-of-25 passing for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Today was his first career start since the playoff loss against Pittsburg State on Nov. 27, 2004. Wright had a 128 yards receiving on six catches.
Defensively, senior linebacker Thomas Smith led the way with 4.5 total tackles including a forced fumble. Sophomore defensive back Brandon Clayton had four solo tackles while four Bearcats had 1.0 sack. With his 1.0 sack, senior defensive end Ryan Waters moves into fourth-place on the Northwest career list (all games) with 17.5.
MSU QB Ben King was 28-of-47 for 267 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Bryan Dalton and Bryan Alberty each caught nine balls as Dalton went for 105 yards. The Mavericks posted just 12 official rushes in the game for five net yards.
NOTES: The victory extends the Bearcat winning streak to 12 at home against non-conference opposition (non-playoffs) ... In the last two games for Northwest (dating back to 2005), it has been flagged just four times for 36 yards ... Sophomore punter Jake Bradshaw, in his Northwest debut, had his first punt attempt blocked ... Xavier Omon moved past David Jansen (1997-2000) for the top career (reg. season) record ... With no turnovers this afternoon, Northwest has not turned the ball over in four of its last five contests (dating back to 2005) ... Northwest evens the series with MSU at 8-8 overall while head coach Mel Tjeerdsma is 7-2 ... Allowing just five net rushing yards, it is the fewest allowed by Northwest since a school-record low -43 against Missouri-Rolla on Sept. 18, 2004 ... The three-touchdown effort by QB Josh Mathews was his fourth such career output - his last three-touchdown game came on Nov. 20, 2004 against Texas-A&M Kingsville.
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