Oct. 9, 2008
Third-Consecutive Ranked Foe Awaits Bearcats
Game Notes (.pdf) | Saturday, Oct. 11 | 1:30 p.m. kickoff (CDT)
MARYVILLE, Mo.-The lone unbeaten team in the MIAA standings will play its third-consecutive nationally-ranked team away from Bearcat Stadium as Northwest Missouri State (5-1, 4-0) takes on Central Missouri (5-1, 3-1) Saturday at Walton Stadium in Warrensburg.
The fifth-ranked Bearcats are coming off back-to-back wins against top-10 teams and have outscored their last three opponents 126-10. Northwest dominated Nebraska-Omaha and Pittsburg State, teams many thought would be the first to knock the Bearcats from their perch atop the MIAA.
Northwest has played the third-toughest schedule in the nation up to this point and it doesn't get any easier this Saturday with a road trip to Warrensburg. In fact, the 17th-ranked Mules will likely vault the Bearcats to number one in terms of schedule strength.
Central Missouri was one of three teams with a 6-3 record in last year's standings, but was picked to finish sixth by the coaches this season. It's no doubt been a rallying point for the Mules who's only loss through six games is a 49-28 setback against Pittsburg State in week three of the MIAA season.
A win at home Saturday, where the team is 52-15 under coach Willie Fritz, and it will be Central Missouri which controls its own destiny for a postseason bid with four games remaining.
Northwest has yet to allow a team to score on its own field in 2008. More impressive, the Bearcats have won 17 consecutive road games in MIAA play, including two at Walton Stadium.
Northwest and Central Missouri are the top two scoring teams in the league and both are averaging better than 400 yards of offense per game.
The difference in the two, at least in conference play, has been the defense where the Bearcats allow 11 points and 229 yards per game, both tops in the league. The Mules are allowing 31 points and 405 yards, both ninth in the league.
Nearly 320 of those yards are allowed through the pass game where the Mules rank dead last in the MIAA. The Mules graduated the program's leading tackler in safety Kendall Ricketts a year ago and have been without the services of all-conference corner Randy Shepherd the last two games.
Northwest has outrushed Central Missouri 210-68 on average in winning the last four meetings between the two teams. The Bearcats ran for 228 yards and passed for three touchdowns in last year's 28-26 win in Maryville. Northwest took a 28-13 lead into the fourth quarter, but needed to stop a two-point conversion and recover an onside kick to secure the win.
Eric Czerniewski passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns last year against the Bearcats. This year as a junior, he's thrown 18 touchdowns against one interception and leads the MIAA with 249 yards passing per game.
His favorite target is running back Glenn Milner, who's scored more touchdowns in the passing game (5) than he has in the run game (4) so far this season. Milner is averaging 85 yards on the ground and 53 yards receiving in six games.
Northwest senior wideout Kendall Wright is coming off a collegiate-best 11-catch performance against Pittsburg State. Wright totaled 228 yards against the Gorillas. He's the sixth-leading punt returner in the nation (15.8 ypr) and ranks 10th in all-purpose yards (162.8 ypg).
LaRon Council has three 100-yard efforts in conference play and leads the MIAA in rushing with 490 yards thru four games. Council tied collegiate highs of 144 yards and four touchdowns against Pittsburg State. He continues to lead the nation in scoring with 17 touchdowns this season.
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Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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