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Northwest Bearcats

Press Release

Oct. 27, 2007

Northwest Clinches Share of the MIAA With Win Against Washburn

MARYVILLE, Mo.-Joel Osborn threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright on 4th-and-8 in the final minute to beat Washburn, 28-27, in front of a homecoming crowd of 8,325.

The win gives Northwest (7-1, 7-0 MIAA) at least a share of the MIAA championship. It's the team's second consecutive title and 21st overall. Only Truman with 27 championships has more MIAA crowns.

Senior linebacker Jared Erspamer was the recipient of the game's Don Black Award, given to Northwest's Most Valuable Player in its homecoming game. Erspamer is the 10th defensive player to receive the award in 36 games dating back to 1972.

Osborn threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in place of starter Josh Mathews, who was injured in the first half. Osborn was 11-of-19 for 97 yards. He also ran for a career-high 39.

Osborn's score to Wright was preceded by Jordan Brill's third touchdown pass for Washburn. Brill found Jake Lebahn on a 10-yard strike with 2:35 remaining, but Andrew Knight missed the extra point to leave the door open for Northwest.

E.J. Falkner took the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Washburn 48. Six plays later, Wright was in the end zone for the game-winning score. It was Osborn's fifth touchdown pass and Wright's fifth touchdown reception of the season.

Xavier Omon carried 32 times for 143 yards and scored the first two touchdowns for the Bearcats. He capped Northwest's opening drive of the game with a 13-yard run. He capped the opening drive of the second half with a 1-yard leap on fourth down to tie the game at 14-14.

Omon broke the school's regular season touchdown record with his first score and has 22 this season. He's carried for more than 100 yards in 13 straight games and needs 247 yards to become the first Division II student-athlete to rush for 1,500 yards in four seasons.

Washburn ran 11 offensive plays in the third quarter, had one first down and totaled 19 yards. Erspamer had five stops in the quarter and Myles Burnsides, last year's Don Black Award winner, intercepted Brill and returned it 37 yards to the Ichabod 10. Two plays later, Osborn and Josh Gannan connected on a nine-yard score and the Bearcats led 21-14.

Brill's first play on his next drive was a 44-yard completion to Brandon Walker. Then on 4th-and-12 he found Walker along the left sideline for a 26-yard touchdown that tied the game with 6:14 remaining.

Washburn was 5-of-7 on fourth downs in the game and Northwest was 3-of-4. Brill was 14-for-31 for 194 yards. Walker had 115 yards receiving with two touchdowns and carried 16 times for 42 yards.

Omon couldn't handle a tough pitch from Osborn on the Bearcats next possession and Bruce Ringwood recovered the fumble at the Northwest 27-yard line, setting up the go-ahead score. Ringwood had a game-high 17 tackles for the Ichabods.

Northwest has now won 13 of its last 14 homecoming day games and 13 of its last 14 games against Washburn. The Bearcats have won 19 straight games against MIAA opponents and can win the title outright with a win at Emporia State (3-6, 1-6) next weekend.

Northwest Head Coach Mel Tjeerdsma Postgame Quotes:

On winning the conference championship:
"Words can't express how happy I am. Conference championship, I even forgot about that. Dallas (Flynn) had to remind me after the game. You'll notice our T-shirts say 'finish' on the back and we hadn't done a great job of that, but I think we believed that today. We weren't going to be denied. Even at the end we finished."

On his team's effort in the second half:
"I'm proud of their efforts. I thought our defense in the second half did an awesome job. We put them in a little bit of a bind with the turnover, but other than that they did a great job. It was a team effort. Our kids, our coaches, everybody believed we were going to win."

On Northwest's last drive:
"The good thing was we had just about three minutes. Obviously we had to score a touchdown. We had a great kickoff return. That set us up because that allowed us to stay out of our two-minute offense. It allowed us to do things we were really comfortable with and we were able to call plays and use our timeouts."

On the two-quarterback offense helping today:
"Thank you for asking that. That's why. We've taken a lot of heat because we've used two quarterbacks, but I think you saw the results of it today."

On Washburn converting fourth downs:
"They did a great job. Give them all the credit. They went for it when they had to and showed some courage. They came here to win a football game. I really have a lot of respect for them and Craig Schurig's done a great job."

Individual Notes

- Omon sets the school single-season total touchdown mark with his 21st with 8:49 remaining in the first quarter.
- Omon has scored a rushing touchdown in 12 straight games (since Nov. 25, 2006 vs. Midwestern (Texas) State).
- Omon reached 100 rushing yards early in the third quarter, marking his 13th straight game with 100 or more rushing yards (streak started on Oct. 28, 2006 vs. Central Missouri).
- Omon is 15-of-24 in fourth-and-one situations - today's fourth-and-one attempt was good for a touchdown at 9:02 in the third quarter.
- Chris LeFlore's two pass breakups are the most for him since a pair at Southwest Baptist on Nov. 11, 2006.
- E.J. Falkner recorded a season-high five receptions.
- Joel Osborn rushed for 39 yards, a career-high.
- Jared Erspamer set a new career-high with four tackles for loss (previous best was 3.0 TFL vs. Minnesota State, Mankato on Aug. 25, 2005).
- Four tackles for loss ties him for third in all-game and regular season game records.
- Erspamer also managed 13 tackles, the most for him at home in his career.
- Tied his career best with 9 solo tackles (9 vs. Pittsburg State on Oct. 20, 2007)
- E.J. Falkner returns five kicks, tied for fourth in all-game records and third in regular season game records.
- Erspamer became the third linebacker to win the Don Black Award (Homecoming MVP).
- It's the second straight year the award has gone to a defensive player (Myles Burnsides, strong safety, won it in 2006).

Team Notes

- Northwest has scored on five of its game-opening drives. All have been for touchdowns.
- The 69-yard run by Moseley in the 1st quarter is the longest play the Northwest defense has allowed this season (previous best was 57-yard pass by Fort Hays State in the 1st quarter).
- Washburn's touchdown with 3:18 remaining in the first half was the first time Northwest has trailed at home since Dec. 2, 2006 against Chadron State.
- First time trailing at home in the regular season since Oct. 22, 2005 vs. Central Missouri.
- Attendance of 8,325 is the fifth-highest attendance in school history.
- First time Northwest has trailed at halftime since Dec. 16, 2006 against Grand Valley State (10-7).
- First time Northwest has trailed at halftime at home since Sept. 20, 2003 vs. No. 7 Central Missouri (24-17).
- First time Northwest has trailed at halftime and won since the 2005 semifinal game against North Alabama (3-0) on Dec. 3.
- Northwest improves its home winning streak to 14 games and its MIAA winning streak to 19.
- The Bearcats clinch a share of the conference championship. It's the 21st MIAA title in school history.
- Northwest has won 13 of the last 14 games with Washburn and 13 of the last 14 homecoming contests.

For more information, please contact:

Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582

Northwest Athletics
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468