Oct. 16, 2008
Homecoming 2008 Features Bearcats, Tigers
MARYVILLE, Mo.-After beating three straight nationally-ranked teams away from Bearcat Stadium, fifth-ranked Northwest Missouri State (6-1, 5-0 MIAA) returns to campus for its annual homecoming game against this year's opponent Fort Hays State (2-5, 1-4).
The Tigers were also the guest during the 2006 homecoming festivities, which resulted in a 59-0 drubbing by the host-Bearcats. Last year, Northwest had to survive a late drive to pull out a 17-10 victory in Hays, Kan.
Northwest hasn't played in front of its home crowd in more than a month (since Sept. 13), but its accomplishments since that time have been astonishing. The Bearcats outscored their opponents 146-23 and posted back-to-back shutouts during their four-game road swing - that after allowing 107 points in three home games to open the season.
Since 1995, Northwest is a combined 41-1 against its four remaining regular season opponents. The Bearcats have plenty of work left to do, but it'll be hard not to keep tabs on the happenings around the conference and the region this weekend.
Northwest is the lone unbeaten team in MIAA play. Pittsburg State is the only one-loss team, but hosts 22nd-ranked Nebraska-Omaha Saturday afternoon.
Saturday evening, West Texas A&M and Abilene Christian, the two teams listed ahead of Northwest in the NCAA regional rankings, square off in Canyon, Texas. A Bearcat win Saturday may be enough to move the team into one of the top two spots, which are granted first-round byes in the playoffs.
About Fort Hays
The Tigers scored the first upset of the conference season by beating then-No. 18 Washburn at home during the opening week of MIAA play. The team has since lost four straight, allowing no fewer than 24 points to the bottom four teams of the conference standings.
Fort Hays leads the league in fewest yards surrendered per game, but ranks last in scoring. It hasn't helped that quarterback Mike Garrison was injured three weeks ago against Truman and hasn't seen the field since.
Anthony Smith, the team's leading receiver, has started at quarterback the last two games and has rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns. In the pocket, however, he's 11-of-30 for 106 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hansley's Return to Maryville
Northwest two-time All-America wide receiver Steve Hansley (1981-83) will be inducted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame Friday and be recognized at halftime of Saturday's game.
Hansley holds Northwest records for catches in a game with 14 and for receiving yards in a game with 220 set against Nebraska-Omaha in 1984. He ranks third in program history in both receiving yards (3,118) and receiving touchdowns (26) and fifth in receptions (196).
Wright Behind Hansley
Current Northwest All-America wide receiver Kendall Wright needs 63 yards to become the fifth player in Bearcat history with 3,000 yards receiving. Wright ranks third in career receptions with 215 and fifth in receiving touchdowns with 18.
Wright became the hero of last year's homecoming game after he hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Joel Osborn on 4th-and-8 with less than two minutes to play against Washburn. The extra point that followed was the difference in a 28-27 win.
Don Black Award
The most valuable player of Saturday's game will be honored in a post-game ceremony with the Don Black Award.
Don Black was a running back for the Bearcat football team from 1951-53 and helped lead Northwest to an MIAA title in 1952. In 1972, the Don Black Award was presented for the first time to the Northwest MVP of the annual homecoming contest.
Since 1972, 33 student-athletes have received the honor. Linebacker Jared Erspamer became the 10th defensive player to win the award last season. Junior safety and 2008 co-captain Myles Burnsides won the award following the 2006 victory against Fort Hays State.
Other News and Notes
• Northwest has won 13 of its last 14 homecoming matchups, including eight wins by 30 points or more
• Northwest has played the toughest schedule in the nation up to this point. It's opponent's combined
record in Division II is 27-9.
• Fort Hays State has lost 17 consecutive road games since the start of the 2005 season
• LaRon Council leads the nation in scoring with 18 touchdowns this season. He also ranks seventh in
rushing with 856 yards
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468