Nov. 29, 2008
Bearcats Advance With 45-36 Win Against ACU
ABILENE, Texas-Northwest Missouri State quarterbacks Joel Osborn and Blake Bolles combined to pass for 316 yards and score four touchdowns to the lead the third-ranked Bearcats to a 45-36 win against second-ranked Abilene Christian in an NCAA quarterfinal game Saturday at Shotwell Stadium.
Northwest (12-1) advances to face North Alabama, a 55-34 winner over Delta State, next Saturday. The site for that contest will be announced Sunday. The Bearcats are 5-0 in the national semifinal round of the NCAA playoffs.
Northwest avenged its lone loss of the season by holding Abilene Christian to its lowest scoring output of the year and its second-lowest total yards. The Wildcats (11-1) were leading the nation in both categories entering Saturday's contest.
The Bearcats trailed briefly in the first quarter, but held leads of 15 points in both the second and fourth quarters. A 32-yard field goal by Tommy Frevert gave the Bearcats a 45-34 lead with 3:21 remaining. Northwest took a safety on the final play of the game.
Osborn was 19-of-28 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Abe Qaoud to cap the opening drive of the game and connected with Nick Rhodes on a 21-yard strike near the end of the first half. Northwest led 28-20 at the break.
Bolles quarterbacked two drives, both of which resulted in touchdowns. He finished a seven-play, 58-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter with a 2-yard pass to Greg Applegate. He capped an 11-play, 98-yard drive with a 14-yard run to give Northwest a 42-27 lead with 14:42 remaining.
Bolles replaced Osborn on 4th-and-3 near midfield during the Bearcats' opening drive of the second half and threw an 11-yard pass to Raphael Robinson for the first down. Osborn reentered and LaRon Council later scored from five yards out to give Northwest a 35-27 lead.
Council carried 21 times for 78 yards and two scores. He also went for 29 yards on a screen pass on 3rd-and-24 in the fourth quarter which led to Frevert's field goal.
The Bearcat defense got interceptions from Chris LeFlore and E.J. Hawkins and forced three consecutive 3-and-outs in the first half. Two of the 3-and-outs led to Northwest touchdowns, LeFlore's interception led to the 98-yard touchdown drive and Hawkins' pick sealed the win on the Wildcats' final possession.
Abilene Christian quarterback Billy Malone's two touchdown passes tied a season-low and he completed less than half his passes for the first time since 2006. Bernard Scott rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns in his final collegiate contest.
Northwest lost 24 yards trying to run out the clock and finished one yard shy of the Wildcats' in terms of total yardage, 455-454. Each team had two sacks.
Willie Horn posted six tackles to lead Northwest. Fred Thompson had 11 stops for Abilene Christian.
• Northwest's first trip to Abilene, Texas, since 1985 (24-24 tie)
• Northwest improved to 21-1 in road games since the start of the 2005 season (6-0 in the playoffs)
• Northwest has reached the national semifinals for the fourth year in a row and sixth time overall (won national titles in 1998, 1999)
• Northwest is 6-0 against the Lone Star Conference in postseason competition
• Northwest tied Valdosta State for the second-most wins in DII since 2000 (98)
• Northwest has four wins against top 10 teams this season
• Northwest's 30 first downs are a program playoff record (34 games)
• Northwest has had a 12-game winning streak in each of the last three seasons
• Northwest head coach Mel Tjeerdsma's 24 postseason wins are the most in DII history
• Joel Osborn has played six games and thrown 165 passes without an interception
• Osborn is the sixth Northwest quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in a single-season (3,009)
• Kendall Wright's 238 career receptions are the second-most in program history
• Myles Burnsides' 66 postseason tackles are tied for the third-most in program history
• Burnsides also recorded his 200th career tackle
• Tommy Frevert has scored 101 career points in the postseason (eight today)
• Greg Applegate caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season - sixth of his career
• Blake Bolles has six rushing touchdowns and six passing touchdowns this season
• Bolles 51 yards rushing is a career-high
• Brandon Clayton's 36 tackles this season are a career-best
• LaRon Council has rushed for 1,501 yards (seventh-most in program history) and scored 32 touchdowns this season (second-most in program history)
• E.J. Hawkins' interception was the first of his career
• Chris LeFlore intercepted his third pass this season and third of his career
• Nick Rhodes caught his fifth touchdown pass this season
• Rhodes six receptions are a season-high
Northwest Missouri State Coach Mel Tjeerdsma's Post-Game Quotes
On Abilene Christian's offside's penalties…
Well, they were huge. We watched a lot of film and we felt like there was no doubt we could get them in the neutral zone and we did a lot of times and that was important for our offense and it was good for us from a psychological stand point because they were doing what we thought we could get them to do.
On the confidence he has in his team…
We got a lot of confidence in what we do and we have a lot of confidence in our kids. We went 3-4 times on fourth down, we threw the ball late in the game. We just have a lot of confidence in our kids on both sides of the ball and I think that makes a tremendous difference.
On his team's postseason experience…
There's no doubt that these guys have been there before. Last week that wasn't quite so apparent because a lot of our younger guys thought that since we beat Pitt 35-10 the first time that they'd come in and lay down. We got a great lesson last weekend in what happens in playoffs and how good an effort you get from the other team. We turned that around this weekend and we gave that kind of an effort this week because the roles were reversed.
On the play of his defense…
They did an awesome job. We said we had to get some stops, they got us some stops and they did the things they had to do. I think we ended up getting two turnovers. We wanted to win the turnover battle and we won that 2-1. But overall, just the relentless pressure that our defense had. Our defensive line, and our depth pays off because those guys were rotating in and we kept fresh guys in there even late in the game. It doesn't make any difference in you're a starter or a backup - you're getting the reps and that made a difference for us.
On the first matchup compared to this one…
We're a completely different team - especially on defense. Our two starting linebackers in the first game didn't even travel to the championship game a year ago. Now they're verterans and they played that way. We had a lot better answer for their quick stuff, they really never got anything on us today on the quick no huddle. I thought we did great on that. We worked on that all week. Our defensive staff made sure we got the call in, we knew what we were going to do, the automatic checks if we had to and they did a great job.
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