Nov. 22, 2007
Northwest Begins Postseason Against Lone Star Champ West Texas
MARYVILLE, Mo.-A pair of league champions square off in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday as the second seed, Northwest Missouri State (9-1) hosts the three seed, West Texas A&M (12-0) starting at noon at Bearcat Stadium.
Northwest was undefeated in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) for the second straight season and is making its 10th postseason appearance in the last 12 seasons. The Bearcats have advanced to the national championship game in each of the past two seasons and were 3-0 at home during its run last season.
West Texas A&M's first three postseason appearances have come in consecutive seasons under third-year head coach Don Carthel. His squad is 33-4 under his watch including three Lone Star Conference Championships. The Buffs overcame a 21-3 third-quarter deficit against Washburn last weekend before rallying for a 40-39 win.
West Texas now has two postseason victories, but has yet to pick up one on the road. Chadron State eliminated the Buffs last year in Nebraska.
Northwest has won 15 straight games at Bearcat Stadium and earned a first-round bye and the right to host based on its four-point loss at undefeated Nebraska-Omaha in its season opener and then winning nine straight in arguably the toughest of the three conferences in the Southwest Region.
This weekend's games will certainly help determine if the Lone Star elite's have closed the gap on the MIAA and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). Chadron State of the RMAC hosts Abilene Christian in the other regional semifinal Saturday.
Two Harlon Hill regional finalists take the field against one another Saturday in Maryville. Northwest back Xavier Omon is the only player in NCAA history with four 1,500-yard rushing seasons. He has a school-record 26 touchdowns this season and was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player in the MIAA this season.
Quarterback Keith Null leads the Buffs and the nation's most potent passing attack. Null has passed for no less than 360 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. He's thrown for 3,774 yards and 39 touchdowns on the season against 12 interceptions.
Saturday also features both league's top defensive players. The Bearcats feature the MIAA's Most Valuable Defensive player in linebacker Jared Erspamer, who leads Northwest with 81 tackles including 10 for loss. Defensive lineman Brandon Swain is the Lone Star's Most Valuable Defensive player. His 65 tackles this season includes a league-best 14 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.
Northwest is 19-7 in nine postseason appearances under head coach Mel Tjeerdsma, who owns the most postseason wins in Division II history. The Bearcats have opened with a win eight of nine times under Tjeerdsma.
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Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468