Sept. 12, 2008
Northwest Hosts Rival-Missouri Western in MIAA Opener
MARYVILLE, Mo.-Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western are set to renew their rivalry at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bearcat Stadium. Both teams are 1-1 heading into opening week in MIAA play.
The Bearcats, ranked ninth in the latest AFCA poll, are the favorites heading into the conference season. Northwest has won back-to-back MIAA championships and has won 19 consecutive games against league foes dating back to the 2005 Fall Classic at Arrowhead Stadium.
Missouri Western has two overtime victories in the win column in its last 12 games against Northwest and hasn't won in Maryville since 2001. The Bearcats have taken the last four games of the series, including a 44-20 decision last year in St. Joseph.
Northwest quarterback Joel Osborn, making his first collegiate start, led the Bearcats on four consecutive touchdown drives to begin last year's contest. Northwest led 28-0 early in the second quarter and cruised to a win in front of a record crowd at Spratt Stadium. Osborn finished 19-of-26 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
His counterpart, Drew Newhart was making his third collegiate start in last year's contest. He passed for 152 yards and a score. Newhart went on to pass for more than 2,000 yards and threw 21 touchdowns in his freshman campaign.
Newhart's had an up-and-down beginning to his sophomore season. He completed 19-of-22 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the Griffons' season-opening win against Northern State. He committed five turnovers (2 INTs, 3 fumbles) in a 47-18 loss to nationally-ranked Minnesota-Duluth.
Both Newhart and Osborn will have plenty of weapons at their disposal Saturday. Griffin junior wide out Cedric Houston leads the MIAA in receptions (13), receiving yards (263) and all-purpose yards (378). Bearcat senior Kendall Wright ranks second behind Houston in both receptions (11) and all-purpose yards (354).
In two games, 10 different receivers have caught passes for the Griffons. Twelve Northwest players logged a reception in the Bearcats' 63-28 win against Southwest Baptist last weekend.
Two games into the season, no one predicted Northwest and Missouri Western to rank ninth and 10th in the MIAA in total defense. The Bearcats have allowed 10 touchdowns in two games, while the Griffons have allowed nine. No other MIAA team has allowed more than five.
Opposing quarterbacks have provided the most damage against the two units. Teams are passing for more than 300 yards against the Griffons. Quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions against the Bearcats.
Getting to the quarterback hasn't been the problem for the Griffons, who lead the league with nine sacks. Senior end Soane Etu leads the conference with four sacks. Missouri Western's other end, Bradley Davidson, is the team's leading tackler.
Northwest is trying to replenish a defensive line and linebacking core lost to graduation a year ago. Tyler Roach contributed two sacks against SBU last weekend. Linebackers Willie Horn and Adam Vondrak each had a hand in a sack and had a team-best six tackles against the purple Bearcats. Starting safeties Myles Burnsides and Aldwin Foster-Rettig currently lead the team with 12 tackles.
News and Notes:
• The Bearcats are 12-2 in MIAA openers under head coach Mel Tjeerdsma
• Including postseason play, Northwest has won 21 consecutive games against MIAA opponents
• Northwest and Missouri Western have played once every year since 1981
• The Bearcats lead the all-time series 17-10
• The last time Northwest hosted Missouri Western in an MIAA opener was 1994 - the first year of the Mel Tjeerdsma Era
• Tjeerdsma will be alone in 10th place on Division II's all-time wins list with a victory against Missouri Western Saturday
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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