Sept. 16, 2006
Bearcats Retain Hickory Stick in 31-10 Defeat of Truman State
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. - (stats) No. 2 Northwest Missouri State held Truman State to 41 total yards of offense in the second half and scored 17 unanswered points en route to the 31-10 Hickory Stick victory this afternoon in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) opener from Stokes Stadium. Today was the 72nd battle for the Hickory Stick - the oldest traditional trophy game in NCAA Division II. Northwest has won the last five meetings.
Northwest, who moves to 3-0 on the season, won for the sixth straight time in Kirksville. It is the largest road Northwest margin of victory in the series since Nov. 7, 1998 (34 points). Truman falls to 0-3 on the young season.
Jared Erspamer, a junior linebacker, earned his second season interception on the first play out of the locker room to change the momentum. Northwest, who went up 14-0 in the first quarter, led by just a slim 14-10 margin at the half. Three plays after Erspamer's pick, junior Xavier Omon notched his second rushing score of the day from two-yards out and handed Northwest a 21-10 lead at the 13:51 mark of the third.
On the first offensive play of the game, Northwest fumbled the snap and Truman recovered in Bearcat territory at the 37-yard line. However, senior defensive end Ryan Waters blocked a Mickey Masucci field goal attempt from 43 yards out and the Bearcats escaped damage on its first turnover of the 2006 season.
Eight plays later, sophomore Kendall Wright hauled in a 24-yard pass from junior Josh Mathews at the 10-minute mark in the first to give the Bearcats a quick 7-0 lead. On the ensuing Bearcats' possession, Omon scored a rushing touchdown for the fifth straight game with a one-yard dive late in the opening stanza. Wright set up the touchdown with a career-long 40-yard rush one play before. At that point, Northwest led 14-3.
A Northwest blunder led to Truman's first score of the day. Mathews first incomplete pass, his seventh attempt, fell into the hands of TSU defensive back James Thabuteau on the third play of the second quarter. TSU quarterback Matt Ticich converted the Bearcat turnover into seven points with a 12-yard rushing touchdown with 10:26 left in the second quarter.
Omon, who stands with 39 career rushing touchdowns, finished his day off with a nine-yard score early in the final period to put Northwest up by 21 points, 31-10. The three rushing TDs is the second time he has accomplished the feat - the last time was against Emporia State on Oct. 2, 2004.
Omon went for a season-high 143 yards on 30 carries. He stands four yards shy of breaking the Northwest career all-games rushing record held by David Jansen. Omon has 3,532 yards.
Wright ended with a career-best 177 yards on nine catches. In the passing category, Mathews had 241 yards on 16-of-28 attempts and one touchdown. In his last five starts, Mathews has thrown 10 touchdowns and averaged 271 yards (1,355).
Senior Thomas Smith led the defensive corps for the second straight game with six total tackles. Junior Dallas Flynn came away with five tackles and one sack.
For the Bulldogs, Ticich was the leading rusher with 56 yards on 19 totes. He added 122 yards on 12-of-33 passing. Ryan King had three catches for 29 yards.
Northwest will host No. 23 Missouri Western next Saturday at 1 p.m. from Bearcat Stadium.
NOTES: Northwest received to start the game - 1st time this year … Ryan Waters blocked a first quarter field goal attempt, the first since Troy Tysdahl did so against Pittsburg State on Nov. 6, 2004 … Northwest entered the game with zero turnovers in the last three contests (dating back to 2005) - they ended with two … The second quarter interception thrown by Josh Mathews was his first this season … Kicker Tommy Frevert missed his first field goal attempt of the year, from 37-yards out in the second quarter … Dallas Flynn blocked a punt in the fourth quarter - a first for Northwest since Dec. 3, 2005 when Tyler Martin blocked a North Alabama punt … The Bearcats have won their last eight MIAA regular-season road games dating back to 2003 … Kendall Wright continued a streak of Bearcat receivers to tally 100-plus yards - the stretch stands at eight straight games … Northwest moves to 3-0 for the fifth time - the last was in 2004 when the Bearcats rattled off 10 wins to start the campaign.
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