Sept. 8, 2007
Northwest Falls At UNO In Opener
No. 11 Nebraska-Omaha (2-0) scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat second-ranked Northwest Missouri State, 25-21, Saturday at Caniglia Field. It was the season opener for the Bearcats, who lost a 15-point lead for the first time since 2001.
The home team has now won the last eight meetings in the series dating back to 1998. The two teams have both been ranked in all eight of those games. This was the first matchup of top-15 teams in Division II this season.
The game featured two of the top quarterbacks in the nation and both delivered in front of over 10,000 fans at Cope Stadium.
Josh Mathews completed 16-of-23 passes for 254 yards and two scores for Northwest. It was the seventh time the senior has thrown for over 250 yards in a game. UNO's Zach Miller threw for 246 yards and a score and rushed for 76, including a 1-yard sneak for the go-ahead score with 3:16 left to play.
The Mavericks scored touchdowns on each of their three fourth-quarter possessions with each drive needing to cover more than half the field. UNO got 178 of its 459 yards of offense in the fourth quarter.
Miller found Tony Kush wide open in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown to cut Northwest's lead to 21-13. Running back Brian McNeill went up the middle for a 54-yard touchdown run to make it 21-19. David Carey caught a pass along the left sideline, survived three Bearcat attempts at being pushed out-of-bounds and scurried 58 yards to the 8-yard line on UNO's third possession just prior to Miller's 1-yard plunge.
UNO failed on both of its two-point conversion attempts.
McNeill carried 27 times for 143 yards and became just the second player in the last 20 games to run for over 100 yards against Northwest.
Joel Osborn quarterbacked the Bearcats' final drive after Mathews was injured on Northwest's previous offensive series. Starting at his own 16-yard line, Osborn completed his first six passes and moved Northwest to the Omaha 47. But a 3rd-and-9 attempt was broken up by Matt Ajuoga and Randy Kush intercepted on fourth down to seal the win.
Northwest managed just five first downs on its three fourth-quarter drives. Tommy Frevert attempted a 47-yard field goal with just under 10 minutes remaining but was well short. It would have been a career long for Frevert.
Xavier Omon rushed for 115 yards and a score, but was held to 33 yards in the second half. He's topped the century mark in six consecutive games dating back to last season.
Northwest tight end Mike Peterson caught three passes for a game-high 98 yards. He got 82 yards on a dazzling pitch-and-catch that set up Northwest's second score. Mathews found Peterson streaking down the middle of the field and threw a strike. Peterson ran over a Maverick and stiff-armed away another before being caught at the 2-yard line. Omon made it 14-6 Northwest one play later. It was a career-long reception for Peterson.
Omaha went three-and-out on its next possession and Dallas Flynn blocked the ensuing punt. Nine plays and 39 yards later, Mathews found LaRon Council for a 5-yard touchdown and a 21-6 lead.
It was the second touchdown pass for Mathews, who hooked up with Josh Gannan for an 11-yard touchdown pass on the game's opening possession. It was the second career touchdown reception by Gannan, who broke a pair of tackles on the play.
Omaha countered with a pair of Greg Zuerlein field goals on its first two possessions. The second followed a drive that stalled at the Northwest 3-yard line.
Of the Mavericks' 10 possessions, eight finished inside the Bearcats' 30-yard line.
Myles Burnsides had a game-high nine tackles for Northwest and Jared Erspamer, a senior from Omaha, finished with eight. Sean Paddock and Caleb Dohrman combined for the Bearcats only sack of Miller.
This will be the last time Northwest and UNO meet as non-conference foes. The Mavericks are set to join the MIAA next season. Northwest, meanwhile, opens its MIAA schedule next week at rival-Missouri Western. That game will take place 6 p.m. Saturday in St. Joseph, Mo.
Team Game Notes
-Northwest has played five consecutive top-20 opponents dating back to last season (3-2).
-The Bearcats' first punt came with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter.
-Northwest has blocked either a kick or a punt in six of its last eight games.
-Northwest converted on both fourth-down attempts in the first half. The Bearcats were 10-of-15 on fourth down in 2006 (66.6 percent).
-Northwest lost a 15-point lead for the first time since Nov. 3, 2001, when the Bearcats lost a 20-point lead and fell to Missouri Western in overtime.
Individual Game Notes
-Peterson's 82-yard reception is a career-long. His previous high was a 61-yard reception in the championship game against Grand Valley State in 2005.
-Josh Mathews 82-yard pass to Mike Peterson was one yard shy of his career long of 83 set Oct. 14, 2006 at Washburn.
-Xavier Omon lost a fumble for just the sixth time in over 900 attempts.
-Josh Gannan's touchdown reception in the first quarter was the second of his career. His first came against Missouri Western Sept. 23, 2006.
-Omon has rushed for a touchdown in 14 of his last 16 games.
-Dallas Flynn blocked the second punt of his career. His first came against Truman Sept. 16, 2006.
-Omon has rushed for over 100 yards in six consecutive games. He recorded the 26th 100-yard effort of his career in the game against Nebraska-Omaha.
-LaRon Council's 32-yard reception is a career-long. It was also just the third reception of the sophomore's career.
-Brian McNeill became just the second player to rush for over 100 yards against Northwest in the last 20 games. He carried 27 times for 143 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
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