Oct. 31, 2006
Fall Classic at Arrowhead V Preview
By Brett BargerMARYVILLE, Mo. -- Two of the most storied programs in Division II football will renew their rivalry this weekend at Arrowhead Stadium when No. 2 Northwest Missouri State (9-0) and No. 8 Pittsburg State (8-1) meet in the Fall Classic V at 2 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
During the past four years, the two programs, which have won a combined three NCAA Division II national championships and have shared 11 of the last 12 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) conference championships, have garnered large crowds and some of the most exciting finishes in college football.
"I think it's exciting because we know there's going to be a big crowd," Northwest coach Mel Tjeerdsma said. "The crowd factor, the noise, all the stuff that leads up to the game and coming out of the tunnel and all of that is great."
Tjeerdsma, in his 13th season at Northwest, holds a career record of 127-35. He led the Bearcats to back-to-back NCAA Division II football championships in 1998 and 1999 and an appearance in last year's title game. He is also tied for third all-time in most MIAA championships with seven.
Chuck Broyles, in his 16th season at Pittsburg State, has won a record nine MIAA championships while posting a record of 172-35. Under his direction, the Gorillas have appeared in four national championship games, including a national title in 1991.
"It's always exciting," Broyles said. "Then you throw in the fact that you're at a professional football team's stadium. It becomes very exciting for all the fans and players and it's a very enjoyable game."
The game features two teams that are near the top in every offensive and defensive category. The Northwest defense, which gives up 12.1 points per game, ranks 11th in the nation in rushing defense and 11th in total defense.
Pittsburg State's offense ranks No. 1 in total offense. The Gorillas average 491.6 yards per game, while putting up a nation best 50.3 points
Last year, the Gorillas used a 45-point first half to upend the Bearcats, 56-35. Northwest junior tight end Mike Peterson said the matchup with Pitt State is always intense.
"It's always an intense game just for the fact that we're playing on the (Kansas City) Chiefs field," Peterson said. "Pitt and Northwest has always been a rivalry. They're going to give everything they got and we got to come out and play physical and focused."
Pittsburg State running back Germaine Race, who is a favorite to win the 2006 Harlon Hill Trophy, averages 153.8 yards per game and has 23 touchdowns on the season. He has also given the Northwest defense headaches since his freshman start in the 2003 Fall Classic. In three games against Northwest at Arrowhead, Race averages 133 yards per game.
"Both teams always have good records and the game can decide who gets in the playoffs and who doesn't," Race said.
The result of this game has differing consequences for both schools. Northwest, who holds the top spot in the Southwest region, can clinch at least a share of the MIAA championship with a win Saturday.
Pittsburg State is currently tied for second in the MIAA with a 6-1 record, but their position in the Southwest region makes a win all the more important. Despite an 8-1 record, the Gorillas sit in eighth place in the Southwest region-only the top six advance to the Division II playoffs.
The Fall Classic has attracted an average of 23,401 fans since the inaugural "Clash of the Champions" in 2002. That same year, 26,695 fans attended, which set a Division II single-game attendance record, at the time.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Northwest ticket office at (660) 562-1212 or the Pittsburg State ticket office at (620) 235-4796.
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468