Nov. 7, 2008
Win, Rest and Wait
MARYVILLE, Mo.-That's the game plan for the third-ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats (9-1, 8-0 MIAA) as they play their regular season finale Saturday against Missouri Southern (4-6, 2-6). Game time from Hughes Stadium in Joplin is 2 p.m.
Northwest is fresh off its second 56-7 win in three weeks and is looking to secure a first-round bye in the NCAA playoffs. The Bearcats are also gunning for their third outright MIAA title, their third 9-0 mark in MIAA play and their 30th straight win against conference opponents (including two playoff games).
Standing in their way are the Lions coached by long-time Northwest assistant Bart Tatum. Missouri Southern started 3-2, but has lost four of five and averaged 10 points since the end of September.
The Bearcats lead the series 15-4 and have won all of the 13 games played since 1995. Northwest scored 42 unanswered points in a 49-14 win in last year's regular season finale in Maryville.
Northwest rushed for more than 300 yards last weekend against Emporia State and is averaging more than 200 yards on the ground this season. That doesn't bode well for the Lions, who rank next to last in the league and 120th nationally against the run.
Northwest back LaRon Council is the 10th-leading rusher in the nation with 1,131 yards. He's also three touchdowns shy of Xavier Omon's regular-season record of 26 scored last season.
Adding to that cause is a Northwest passing game that leads the MIAA and ranks 19th nationally at 270 yards per game. Quarterbacks Joel Osborn and Blake Bolles combine for the 11th-highest pass efficiency in the nation. They've accounted for 26 touchdowns including Bolles' two rushing scores and seven turnovers (6 int., 1 fum.) in 10 games.
Playing in his final collegiate game Saturday is Southern quarterback Adam Hinspeter, who needs 183 yards to become the third passer in MIAA history to throw for 9,000 yards in his career. Hinspeter has already attempted and completed the most passes in league history. He threw for 303 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions in a 38-7 loss at Truman last weekend.
In three career starts against the Bearcats, Hinspeter has completed 60 percent of his passes for 647 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions.
Leading the defensive efforts Saturday will be Lions' linebacker Jared Brawner, the league's second-leading tackler who averages more than 10 tackles per games.
Conversely, Northwest safety Myles Burnsides had 10 tackles in the season opener against Abilene Christian and no Bearcat has had double-digit tackles since. Despite that fact, Northwest leads the MIAA in scoring defense, total defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense.
Aldwin Foster-Rettig, who has essentially missed the last two games with an injury, leads Northwest with 51 tackles and is expected to return to the starting lineup Saturday. The Bearcats' 10 other defensive starters have between 19 and 43 tackles and 26 Northwest players have double-digit tackles this season.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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