Nov. 4, 2006
Northwest Grabs Share of Conference Title with 41-14 Drubbing of Pitt State
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Arrowhead Stadium) -- (stats) (game notes) #2 Northwest Missouri State scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the game and earned at least a share of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Championship by taking down #8 Pittsburg State 41-14 this afternoon in front of 22,561 fans in attendance. Redshirt freshman Sheldon Cook, the fourth-string running back, posted a career-high 172 yards on 13 carries (13.2 ypc) - he had just 17 rushes coming into the game.
orthwest, who held the No. 1 spot in the Southwest region, moves to 10-0 on the year overall. It is the eighth time in school history that Northwest has moved to 10-0. Pittsburg falls to 8-2 on the year and most likely will not earn a postseason berth with the loss. The Gorillas were No. 8 in the region coming into the game - the top six teams enter the postseason.
Along with Cook, the Northwest defense was the headline holding the country's top offense in yards (491.6) and scoring offense (50.3 ppg) well below its average. For the eighth time this season, Northwest limited the opponent under 300 yards. Pitt State's Harlon Hill favorite Germaine Race, who entered the game sixth among NCAA rushers (153.8 ypg), went for just 68 yards on 21 totes (3.2 ypc). In 10 games this year, a Northwest opponent rusher has not reached the century mark.
The quick strike Northwest offense found the end zone on its opening drive just 2:13 into the contest - a three-yard Brant Gregg rush. A touchdown pass by junior Josh Mathews and two long touchdown runs later, Northwest held a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Pitt State got on the board with a six-yard catch by Marques Nelson with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Junior Mike Peterson, who lined up in the backfield for the first time in a Bearcat uniform, plowed in from seven yards out before junior E.J. Falkner's 17-yard blocked punt return put Northwest in control 41-7 heading into the fourth.
PSU closed out the scoring at the 5:52 mark on a 12-yard pass from Waters to Eric Clawson.
Mathews finished his day 16-of-20 for 179 yards and one score. Wright had 93 receiving yards on eight catches. Defensively, senior Thomas Smith led the Northwest tacklers with nine, including 1.5 sacks. Senior Kyle Kaiser went for seven total tackles and 2.0 sacks.
Waters was 17-of-23 for 168 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Pitt State. Pierce Curran was the top pass catcher going with four catches and 43 yards. Jason Northern and Bryan McMurtrey each posted seven tackles.
Northwest will put an end to its regular season with a trip to Southwest Baptist on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
Coach Mel Tjeerdsma "We knew if we could get him (Cook) to the second level he could make some people miss. We had to put the pressure on him (Geno Waters). When your down 14-0 you have to change your game plan. We were so successful early. No one has been able to move the football consistently on us."
Kyle Kaiser, "Our main goal was to stop Germaine Race. I'm very happy for our whole defense."
"I told people all week that they were going to underestimate our running game. I knew with Cook and Gregg we could do a lot of good things."
Sheldon Cook, "I was pumped up to play for the home town crowd. I have to give it up to the guys up front for them to make the lanes. Two weeks ago I was 3rd string. Coach told me just to be prepared for the game."
Thomas Smith, "We just came out from last Sunday and pressured a lot in practice. I have to give it up to the coaches they give us great game plans we just had to execute."
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