MIAA Football Report No. 8

For immediate release, Oct. 9, 2007

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- After dodging a bullet in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead VI last weekend, ninth-ranked Northwest Missouri State (4-1, 4-0 MIAA) has to face another school looking for a share of first place in the MIAA race.

The Bearcats, third in the initial NCAA Division II Southwest Region Ranking released Monday (Oct. 8), host the No. 11 team in the region, the Central Missouri Mules (4-2, 3-1 MIAA), this Saturday (Oct. 13).

The game will feature not only two of the league's top running backs in Northwest senior Xavier Omon (148.4 ypg) and UCM junior Glenn Milner (115.7 ypg) -- ranked second and third in the MIAA, respectively -- but also two of the league's leading rushing defenses.

The Mules have allowed just 78.3 rushing yards per game (second in the league), while the Bearcats have surrendered an average of 99.8 yards per game on the ground (third in the MIAA). And both have already faced conference rushing offense leader Pittsburg State (4-2, 2-2 MIAA).

The No. 23 Gorillas will be trying to avoid not only back-to-back losses, but going overtime as well when they travel to Truman (4-2, 2-2 MIAA). PSU has played OTs in each of its previous two games.

The Bulldogs have averaged 267.2 passing yards per game in 2007 -- second-best in the MIAA. They'll face the No. 2 pass defense (101.3 opponent passer rating) in PSU.

Washburn (4-2, 3-1 MIAA), seventh in the first regional ranking, heads to Emporia State (3-3, 1-3 MIAA) for the 104th renewal of the Turnpike Tussle rivalry. The series between the Ichabods and Hornets is the most contested active rivalry in NCAA Division II football.

ESU is trying to snap a three-game skid after starting the year with three straight wins. Washburn will be looking to maintain pace with Northwest and UCM and stay in the top three of the league race.

The MIAA's other regionally-ranked squads -- No. 9 Missouri Western (4-2, 2-2 MIAA) and No. 12 Missouri Southern (4-2, 2-2 MIAA) -- each have Homecoming games this week.

The Griffons return to Spratt Stadium to host winless Southwest Baptist (0-6, 0-4 MIAA), while the Lions entertain Fort Hays State (3-3, 1-3) at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

The Western defense will have to stop an SBU offense which amassed 680 yards last week against Truman -- 378 directly accountable to freshman QB Steven Gachette (356 passing, 22 rushing).

FHSU makes its first trip to Joplin since 1988 -- when the Tigers and Lions played in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference. Both teams enter the contest allowing less than 20 points per game.

All MIAA games this week are available in streaming video on www.themiaa.tv for $5.95 each.

SBU MAKING PLAYS: The Southwest Baptist Bearcats shattered NCAA Collegiate (all divisions) and MIAA records for most offensive plays in a game during their 55-31 loss to Truman last Saturday (Oct. 6).

SBU recorded 126 plays -- 74 passes and 52 rushes. The NCAA Collegiate and Division II record was 117, set back in 1982 by Texas A&M-Kingsville against Angelo (Texas) State.

The MIAA record was 99, reached three times. The first was by Northwest Missouri State against Lincoln (Mo.) in 1977. Truman did it against Missouri State in 1985 and Missouri-Rolla was the last to hit it in 2003 vs. Missouri Western.

SBU's 74 pass attempts was two short of the MIAA record of 76.

OMON WATCH: Northwest Missouri State senior RB Xavier Omon passed Truman's Jarrett Anderson for fourth on the MIAA career scoring list after scoring five touchdowns against Pittsburg State last week.

He now has 462 points, 18 behind Pittsburg State's Ronald Moore (1989-92 -- 480) in third.

Omon remains fifth on the MIAA's career rushing list with 5,478 yards. He needs 298 yards to pass Moore (5,776) for fourth place on the conference list.

THE 80-WIN CLUB: Two men have a chance to close in on the 80-win plateau as a head coach in the MIAA.

Willie Fritz of Central Missouri needs one more to be the eighth MIAA coach with 80 wins. He passed Terry Noland (1983-96) as UCM's most victorious coach and for eighth place on the league list.

With 75 wins, Missouri Western's Jerry Partridge needs wins in the Griffons' last five games to make 80 this regular season.

Team-by-Team Notes

Central Missouri: The Mules are looking for their first win over the Northwest Bearcats since a 52-24 win in Maryville during the 2003 season... Now-senior FS Kendall Ricketts had 19 tackles, an interception and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone in last season's 31-14 loss at UCM... Junior RB Glenn Milner is ranked sixth in D-II scoring (13.0 ppg)... With 14 interceptions, UCM is now second in D-II in the category -- West Liberty (W.Va.) State leads with 17... Senior WR Anthony Parks, the Mules' leading receiver (15 catches, 174 yds.), missed the ESU game last week.

Emporia State: The Hornets had a 6-0 lead in last season's meeting with WU before the Ichabods rallied for 37 unanswered points and a 31-point victory... ESU has seven wins in the last eight games played against WU in Emporia... The Hornets' last win in the series was a 35-28 overtime win in 2003 at Welch Stadium... ESU was 0-2 against Washburn when now-head coach Garin Higgins played for the Hornets -- though the Ichabods later forfeited one of the wins due to using an ineligible player... The Washburn game is the second of three home games in succession for ESU.

Fort Hays State: Senior DL Jason Hill extended his string of games with a quarterback sack to six -- he has 8.0 for the year (1.3 per game -- 2nd in D-II)... Senior RB Jordan Hickel needs 5 yards to pass Rich Dreiling (1965-68 -- 2,956) for third on FHSU's career rushing list... The Tigers recorded their only win of 2006 vs. MSSU, 10-0, snapping a six-game losing skid to the Lions... Fort Hays State is No. 1 in the MIAA and 10th in Division II for rushing defense (74.2 yapg)... The Tigers are 3-0 when scoring at least 20 points, 0-3 when allowing more than 20.

Missouri Southern: Junior QB Adam Hinspeter surpassed 6,000 passing yards last week vs. WU, becoming just the second Lion to reach the career milestone -- with 6,152 yards, he needs 373 more to crack the MIAA's career top 10... The Lions had a potential go-ahead touchdown pass intercepted with less than three minutes remaining against Washburn... Senior WR Colin Bado is two catches shy of 200 for his career... MSSU held Fort Hays State to 199 yards of total offense in last season's meeting, but the Lions only had 227 of their own and failed to score for the first time in 33 games dating back to 2003.

Missouri Western: The Griffons will be seeking their first home win since claiming the season opener over Baker (Kan.) on Sept. 1... Western had to get an interception in the end zone from now-senior DB J.R. Graham as time expired to escape Bolivar with a 24-21 win last season... Head coach Jerry Partridge is 10-0 all-time against the Bearcats... Junior P Jamie Hanson is ranked 10th in punting average (41.9 ypp)... The Griffons average 16.0 yards per punt return -- eighth-best in Division II.

Northwest Missouri State: Not only is Northwest the top-scoring team in Division II this week (48.2 ppg), senior RB Xavier Omon is the individual scoring leader (20.4 ppg)... The Bearcats forced five turnovers, Omon ran for 166 yards and now-senior QB Josh Mathews threw for 224 yards and three scores in last season's 31-14 win over the Mules... Mathews is ranked eighth in D-II pass efficiency (166.8 Rating) and Omon is ninth in rushing average (148.4 ypg)... Northwest is seeking its 13th consecutive win in Bearcat Stadium... The Bearcats have four wins in the last five games vs. the Mules.

Pittsburg State: PSU's record in overtime games fell to 6-4 with the loss to Northwest... The Gorillas scored 21 second-quarter points in last year's meeting with Truman and earned their 19th straight win over the Bulldogs, 45-21, in Pittsburg... PSU is seventh in D-II rushing offense (263.8 ypg)... Junior TB Caleb Farabi is sixth in rushing average (152.,5 ypg) and eighth in scoring (12.0 ppg)... Farabi needs 85 rushing yards to be the first MIAA back over 1,000 this season... Farabi (156) and junior QB Mark Smith (105) gave the Gorillas two 100-yard rushers in a game for the second time in as many weeks in the Northwest game.

Southwest Baptist: With his 17 catches last week vs. Truman, senior WR Nick Smart set SBU's single-game record -- Franklin Buckley set the old mark of 15 vs. Iowa Wesleyan in 1985... Smart continues to lead NCAA Division II in receptions per game (10.3)... Freshman QB Steven Gachette, seventh in D-II total offense (314.5 ypg), had his string of five straight games with a touchdown pass to open his career snapped against Truman... Senior RB Jeff Finnell had 215 rushing yards and 2 TDs against the Bulldogs -- he had a career total of 384 yards and 1 TD entering the game.

Truman: The Bulldogs are aiming to snap a 19-game losing streak to the Gorillas -- Truman's last win over PSU was in 1980, 17-14, in the Moila Shrine Bowl played at MWSU's Spratt Stadium... Senior RB Jake Cunningham averages 4.67 receptions per game -- tops among MIAA running backs and tied for fourth overall in the league... Sophomore LB Eric Sternberg's 98-yard interception return for a TD as time expired vs. SBU was the longest in school history... Sophomore DB Garret Fieg, Truman's leader in interceptions (3), has been dismissed from the squad due to disciplinary reasons.

Washburn: The Ichabods have won four of the last five meetings against the Hornets... Senior QB Jordan Brill needs 187 passing yards to become the second player in WU history to reach 6,000 for a career... Senior RB Ra'Shawn Mosley is 155 yards away from becoming the second Ichabod to log 3,000 career rushing yards -- he ran for 74 last week vs. MSSU before leaving the game with an injury... Game day will mark the 45th anniversary of the 1962 meeting between the Hornets and Ichabods, when the Ellis Rainsberger-led WU squad won, 7-6, in Topeka and snapped a four-game slide in the series with ESU -- Rainsberger later was head coach at Kansas State (1974-77).

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MIAA Football Players of the Week

For the week of play ending Oct. 7

OFFENSE:
Xavier Omon, RB
Northwest Missouri State University

Omon, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior from Beatrice, Neb., logged the third-highest rushing total in Northwest history and scored five touchdowns, including the game-winner, in a 37-34 overtime win for the No. 9 Bearcats against No. 16 Pittsburg State Saturday (Oct. 6) in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead VI in Kansas City.

He had 274 yards on 30 carries, logging his second five-touchdown effort in three games. His third, a 10-yard run, and fourth, a 63-yard dash, brought the Bearcats from being down seven early in the fourth quarter to up seven with 7:36 remaining.

The final touchdown for the win in OT was a 1-yard leap after he'd missed a series in the extra session with cramps. He did convert a pair of fourth-and-1 plays into first downs in overtime -- which includes the game-winner.

Omon, now fourth on the MIAA's career scoring list with 464 points, is a graduate of Beatrice High School.

Others Nominated: Steve Gachette, QB, SBU; Glenn Milner, RB, UCM; Drew Newhart, QB, MWSU; Matt Ticich, QB, TSU.

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Mark Smith, QB, PSU; 9/3 -- Caleb Farabi, TB, PSU; 9/10 -- Matt Ticich, QB, TSU; 9/17 -- Alley Broussard, RB, MSSU & Caleb Farabi, TB, PSU; 9/24 -- Xavier Omon, RB, NWMSU; 10/1 -- Chadd Snyder, QB, PSU.

DEFENSE:
Jared Erspamer, LB
Northwest Missouri State University

Erspamer, a 6-foot-0, 235-pound senior from Omaha, Neb., logged a career-high mark for tackles in the No. 9 Bearcats' 37-34 overtime win over No. 16 Pittsburg State last Saturday (Oct. 6) in Kansas City, Mo.

He made 16 tackles (nine solos) in the game, reaching his previous best of 11 by halftime. Erspamer was credited with 1.5 tackles for loss -- one being on PSU backup QB Chadd Snyder on the Gorillas' overtime possession.

He also caused one of Pitt State's two turnovers when he forced starting QB Mark Smith to fumble in the third quarter. He also stopped Smith on a third-and-goal play from the Northwest 2, which forced PSU to try a second-quarter field goal.

Erspamer is a graduate of Millard South High School.

Others Nominated: Eric Lawrence, DE, WU; Jacob Schoonover, LB, MWSU; James Thabateau, DB, TSU.

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Garret Feig, DB, TSU; 9/3 -- Zach Watkins, ILB, WU; 9/10 -- Emmanuel Howard, CB, ESU; 9/17 -- Emmanuel Howard, CB, ESU; 9/24 -- Jared Brawner, LB, MSSU; 10/1 -- Kendall Ricketts, FS, UCM.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Cary Williams, KR/DB/WR
Washburn University

Williams, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior from Miami, Fla., became just the second Ichabod and 14th player in MIAA history to record a 100-yard kickoff return in WU's 26-20 home win over Missouri Southern Saturday (Oct. 6).

The returned answered a score by the Lions which put Washburn in a 20-17 hole with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. He tied the school record with his second career kickoff return TD.

Williams amassed 226 all-purpose yards in the game -- 122 on two kickoff returns, 68 yards on his only reception of the game (which went for a touchdown), and 36 on a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone.

He is a graduate of Hollywood (Fla.)-Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory, and transferred to WU from Fordham (N.Y.) University following his sophomore season.

Others Nominated: Jamie Hanson, P, MWSU; Mickey Masucci, K/P, TSU.

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Bryan Haynes, KR, FHSU; 9/3 -- Jared Witter, K/P, PSU; 9/10 -- Marcelo Velazquez, K, UCM; 9/17 -- Caleb Obert, KR/WR, NWMSU; 9/24 -- Kendall Wright, KR/WR, NWMSU; 10/1 -- Sydney Brisbane, KR/WR, NWMSU & Jared Witter, K/P, PSU.

-- MIAA --


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