Nov. 2, 2007
Bearcats Seek Region's Top Seed
MARYVILLE, Mo.-Even with its 21st MIAA Championship in hand, the sixth-ranked Northwest Missouri State football team has plenty at stake Saturday when the Bearcats take on Emporia State.
At the top of the list is a chance at being named the top-seed in the Southwest Region come selection Sunday.
Northwest will certainly benefit from Nebraska-Omaha's impressive 41-14 win against South Dakota Thursday night. The Mavericks remain undefeated (9-0), which is good for the Bearcats and their strength of schedule. Chadron State, currently the top seed in the Southwest Region, is playing its final two games against teams with a 3-16 combined record.
It's senior day at Emporia State so expect emotions to be running high at Jones Field at Welch Stadium. The Hornets have lost six in a row after starting their year with three wins. Emporia lost a 33-30 decision in overtime at Truman last weekend.
In addition to their seniors, the Hornets hope to rally around their defensive coordinator, Ken Gordon, who was an all-conference linebacker at Northwest in 1996 and was an assistant coach for the Bearcats from 1998-2001.
The Bearcats have won their last four games by a combined total of 13 points. They'll be hoping to build some momentum as they take on a team they've beaten the last 12 times by an average of 25 points. Northwest leads the all-time series with Emporia State 21-2.
To do so, Northwest will likely have to play without quarterback Josh Mathews, who was injured last week against Washburn. Joel Osborn is expected to get the start if Mathews is unable to go. Osborn quarterbacked the Bearcats to four straight touchdowns in his only start this season at Missouri Western (9/15). Northwest won that game 44-20 in perhaps its most impressive road performance of the year. Osborn has played in every game this season.
Emporia State is without its starter, Andre Sloan El, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Eric Runge, listed as a wide receiver for the Hornets, started at quarterback last week against Truman and went 7-of-14 for 40 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 20 times for 86 yards.
While the quarterback position will certainly be monitored Saturday, all eyes remain focused on Northwest running back Xavier Omon as he continues his assault on the record book.
Omon needs 11 yards and a touchdown to become the 11th Division II student-athlete to 6,000 yards rushing and the fifth to score 500 points. He needs two touchdowns to tie Northwest's single-season record. He needs 247 yards to become the first player in Divison II history to rush for 1,500 yards in four seasons.
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