In the season's fifth game and first for quarterback Trevor Adams since week two, Northwest Missouri State's previously inconsistent offense clicked at a level reminiscent of the early 2011 version.
Along with that, the Bearcat defense played lights-out from the second series on.
The end result was a jaw-dropping 66-6 win over first-year MIAA member Northeastern State on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon at Bearcat Stadium.
MIAA Network viewers and a Family Weekend crowd of 8, 261 witnessed No. 11 Northwest score 66 unanswered points after falling behind 6-0 on the opening drive of the game.
Donning black uniforms for the first time since week four of last year, the Bearcats flipped momentum with a blocked extra point and a 64-yard kickoff return by Tyler Shaw and never gave it back during what evolved into their most impressive stretch of football to date.
Northwest scored on its first eight possessions and 10 of 12 overall, producing its highest scoring and rushing output of the year. The Bearcats also kept NSU off the board for the final 52 minutes and 10 straight drives.
The Bearcats had double the amount of first downs as NSU, over twice the number of total yards and three times the amount of rushing yards, while winning the turnover battle 4-0.
"As a coach, it's kind of what you envisioned going into the season," said Northwest Missouri State head coach Adam Dorrel. "I thought it was very important that we played well this week, going into the next four weeks on the road. I certainly feel better about where we're at right now because we played a complete game. Hopefully, we can build off it and move forward."
The Bearcats (4-1, 3-1) extended their home win streak to 13 and have now won three straight by an average 37.3 points since their lone loss to Central Missouri.
This was Northwest's largest win since bombing Lincoln 73-3 in week three of last season.
It came against an opponent in NSU (0-5, 0-5) that, although winless, was supposed to provide a challenge based on previous results and overall talent level.
Stacked with six Division I transfers, the Riverhawks were coming off a 10-point home loss to undefeated Emporia State and two weeks prior went down to the wire with No. 20 Washburn.
NSU orchestrated a beautiful 11-play, 88-yard opening drive to lead 6-0, but from that point forward almost nothing went right.
"It just seemed like everything we did we had someone that made a mistake," said NSU head coach Kenny Young. "It was like a snowball going downhill. The momentum changed and the snowball just kept getting bigger and bigger. You got to give credit to Northwest Missouri for that because they were well-prepared, well-coached. Their guys could've gotten down after we went down the field and scored and they didn't. I give them a lot of credit. They're a team we want to be like at some point."
Northwest turned the game into a rout in the second quarter, scoring 24 points to take a 38-6 halftime lead. Two more Bearcat touchdowns within the first three minutes of the third quarter made it 52-6 and ended the offensive starters day.
By then, the Bearcats had already eclipsed their previous-season high of 48 points.
Northwest also finished with a season-high 654 yards (352 in the first half), converted an amazing 11-14 third downs and didn't commit a turnover for the second straight week.
The Bearcat run game, which has shown signs of progress in recent weeks, had a field day against NSU's 14th-ranked run defense with 346 yards split between 10 different ball-carriers.
James Franklin III led the Bearcats with 97 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Starting backfield mate Jordan Simmons scored Northwest's first two touchdowns and three overall, finishing with 78 yards rushing and receiving.
Back-up running backs Billy Creason, Kohlman Adema-Schulte and Denver Lohnes combined for 125 yards. Back-up quarterback Brady Bolles ran for 60 yards and scored Northwest's final two touchdowns.
Returning from an ankle injury that kept him out two games, Adams had by far his best game of the year, completing 19-27 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a 1-yard rushing score.
Picked off five times in the first two games, Adams threw none Saturday, and the only ball that came close to being a turnover, resulted in a 65-yard catch-and-run by Bryce Young down the left sideline.
"Being out two weeks, I was just so excited to be back out there," said Adams. "I think God for the humbling experience he put me through. It really made me appreciate what I feel like I have here as a family. I thought our offensive line did a great job today. The backs ran super hard. It was a great team win today."
Adams and Bolles distributed their 22 completions to 10 different receivers.
Coming off a career-best 158-yard outing at Nebraska-Kearney, Shaw led Northwest with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, giving him four in the last three games.
Young, who had been quiet the last two weeks, re-emerged in the offense with four catches for a team-high 93 yards.
Simmons and tight end Vincent Defeo had the other two receiving touchdowns.
Defensively, Northwest held an opponent under 13 points for the fourth time in five games, improving upon their 14.3 ppg average that ranks second best in the MIAA.
The Bearcats also forced four turnovers, giving them seven take-aways in the last two games and 14 on the year.
Linebacker Collin DeBuysere and safety Nate DeJong each had an interception, while defensive ends
Montay Simmons and Ricky Bailey recovered fumbles.
It was DeBuysere's second interception of the year and third forced turnover.
"You can look at the quality of opponent and this and that, but when you're winning the turnover battle at any level of football, statistics show year in and year out your chances of winning that football game increase dramatically," said Dorrel.
NSU finished with 271 yards, below its season average of 353, and rushed for just 88 yards on 29 carries. Riverhawk sophomore running back Joel Rockmore found little running room throughout a 17-carry, 57-yard day, gaining more than six yards only once. He had rushed for 281 yards in his last two games against Washburn and Emporia State.
"The defensive line did a great of getting a lot of pressure," said Northwest linebacker D.J. Gnader. "We filled up those gaps and let the linebackers run a round. Coming into the game, we knew No. 20 (Rockmore) was going to be a great running back and he is, but today defensively, we played gap-sound football and went to work."
NSU quarterback Johnny Deaton hit on his first six passes, including five straight on the opening drive, but was just 8-19 from that point on.
He finished 14-25 for 139 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions before being replaced by back-up Dallas McCutcheon in the third quarter.
Jahmai Coleman scored NSU's only points on a 17-yard reception, straddling the right boundary. Top wideout threat Jermaine Sherman did minimal damage with five catches for 45 yards.
He was guarded throughout the day by Northwest's top corner Brandon Dixon who deflected the missed extra point that hit off the left upright.
After its 88-yard opening scoring drive that took 6:25, NSU had just one first down on its next four series.
During the same period, Northwest scored all four times it had the ball.
Shaw's return, which began with a fake hand-off to Simmons, gave Northwest the ball at NSU's 16 on their opening possession.
Simmons scored from two yards out and a 25-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter that Adams sprung with a downfield block gave Northwest a 14-6 lead.
Todd Adolf put Northwest ahead 17-6 seven seconds into the second quarter with a 25-yard field goal.
Adams dove in from a yard out to make it 24-6 with 11:16 left in the second. It came three plays after his 65-yard completion to Young.
NSU finally got going on offense again and pulled off a successful fake punt to keep the drive going at Northwest's 34.
Two plays later, Deaton tried to take a shot down the middle and was intercepted by DeBuysere.
Taking over at NSU's 11, the Bearcats moved 89 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 15-yard pass from Adams to Simmons in the flat.
DeJong's interception, off a tipped ball, gave Northwest the ball back again with 2:44 left in the half.
And the Bearcats capitalized with a 10-yard toss from Adams to Defeo with 23 seconds left to make it 38-6.
By Joey Falkoff email@example.com
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Joey Falkoff firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated Sep. 30, 2012 @ 8:06 pm
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