Four more MIAA teams set to open 2007 campaign this week

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- After six schools opened the 2007 football season last week, the other four will do the same during week two.

Three of those squads will be starting the schedule on the road, including both teams in action Thursday (Aug. 30). Missouri Southern (5-6, 3-6 MIAA in '06) plays at Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.), an NAIA school in Lawrence. It is the first meeting between the Lions and Indians.

Southwest Baptist (1-10, 1-8 MIAA in '06) begins the Keith Allen era with a trip to Searcy, Ark., to face Harding (Ark.) of the Gulf South Conference. The Bearcats are in search of their first win over the Bison in four tries after last season's 42-30 setback in Bolivar.

On Saturday (Sept. 1), Garin Higgins will coach his alma mater Emporia State (3-8, 2-7 MIAA in '06) in a game for the first time when the Hornets head west to face Western (Colo.) State of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. ESU will be trying to for their seventh win in a row over the Mountaineers and first since 1990.

Missouri Western (9-3, 7-2 MIAA in '06) begins the season at Spratt Memorial Stadium Saturday night by hosting NAIA-member Baker (Kan.). It is the first time the Griffons and Wildcats have met on the gridiron.

No. 7 Pittsburg State (1-0, 0-0 MIAA) hosts its Hall of Fame Game Saturday night when the East Central (Okla.) Tigers of the Lone Star Conference make their first trip to Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium. The Gorillas went to ECU last season and picked up a 52-12 victory.

Washburn (0-1, 0-0 MIAA) will be looking to bounce back from its season-opening loss at home against 2006 playoff qualifier Chadron (Neb.) State by hitting the road to face another RMAC team, Colorado Mines. The Ichabods have won their last two games against the Orediggers, including a 41-21 triumph in Topeka last season.

LIGHTNING CRASHES PARTY AT NORTHWEST: Northwest Missouri State was able to unveil its new lighting system and the new FieldTurf surface named for head coach Mel Tjeerdsma last Thursday (Aug. 23), but Mother Nature had other ideas about the Bearcats playing a football game against Arkansas Tech.

Action was terminated with 2:30 to go in the first quarter after lightning had been detected near the stadium for a second time during the game.

Northwest was declared the winner of the game, as they were holding a 21-0 lead at the time the game was halted. Arkansas Tech disagrees with the declaration, considering it a no contest.

The ultimate decision will come from the NCAA Division II Football Committee as to whether this game will count towards qualification for the playoffs.

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

With 75 wins, Willie Fritz of Central Missouri (0-1, 0-0 MIAA) is three away from tying Terry Noland (1983-96) as the most victorious coach in UCM history and for eighth place on the conference list.

This week, Missouri Western head coach Jerry Partridge will be aiming to tie Southeast Missouri State's Abe Stuber (1932-46) for 10th on the all-time wins list with 72.

Team-by-Team Notes

Central Missouri: The Mules lost a season-opener for the first time since 1997 -- Willie Fritz's first game as UCM head coach -- with the setback at Minnesota State-Mankato... Central Missouri forced five Maverick turnovers -- including four interceptions... Junior SS John Samia had two of the Mules picks, the first UCM player with more than one in a game since Kendall Ricketts had three vs. Southwest Baptist as a freshman in 2004... Sophomore QB Eric Czerniewski was 20-of-39 passing for 187 yards, two TDs and two interceptions in his first start.

Emporia State: ESU and Western State met every season from 1985-90, a period intercecting the playing careers of both head coaches -- the Hornets' Garin Higgins (an ESU quarterback from 1987-90) and the Mountaineers' Pat Stewart (a WSC linebacker from 1985-88)... Emporia State is 11-4 vs. RMAC schools since joining the MIAA In 1991 (all vs. Fort Hays State before the Tigers left the league after the 2005 season)... The Hornets won the last meeting with Western State, 23-15, at Welch Stadium.

Fort Hays State: The Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak in season openers with the win over Western State last weekend.. With his 128 against the Mountaineers, senior RB Jordan Hickel has 2,625 career rushing yards -- leaving him 156 yards from passing former NFL player Steve Crosby (1970-73 -- 2,780) for fourth place on FHSU's all-time list... Hickel's four touchdowns vs. WSC were a career-best, topping the three he scored in 2004 vs. Oklahoma Panhandle State... The Tigers received a 25th-place vote in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll this week.

Missouri Southern: The Lions are 1-1 in season openers vs. NAIA schools since joining the MIAA in 1989, splitting a home-and-home series with Bacone (Okla.) in 2003-04... Haskell Indian Nations was 2-9 last season playing as an independent... Southern is aiming for its fourth straight season-opening win, a feat not accomplished by the Lions since Jim Frazier-led squads won six straight from 1975-80... Senior WR Colin Bado needs 116 yards to become the third player in MSSU history with 2,000 career receiving yards.

Missouri Western: The Griffons enter the home and season opener with a nine-game winning streak at Spratt Memorial Stadium -- the last loss in St. Joseph was to Northwest Missouri State, 9/17/05... Baker was 4-6 last season and 2-3 away from Baldwin City in '06... It is the first time since MWSU joined the MIAA that it has opened the season against a non-NCAA opponent, and it is the first non-Division II opener since playing Division I FCS Drake (Iowa) in 1995... It was reported in the St. Joseph News-Press that redshirt freshman Drew Newhart would start at quarterback vs. Baker.

Northwest Missouri State: Though the stats won't count (per NCAA Bylaw, it should be noted that the Bearcats scored their 21 points vs. Arkansas Tech in the first 5:18 of the game -- driving 63 yards on the opening possession capped by a 3-yard TD run by senior RB Xavier Omon, followed by a punt block courtesy of senior DE Dallas Flynn which was scooped up by freshman FS Marcus Martin and returned for a score, then ATU fumbled on the ensuing kickoff to set up a four-play 19-yard drive in which Omon scored from 4 yards.

Pittsburg State: Junior RB Caleb Farabi posted the first 100-yard game of his collegiate career vs. Texas A&M-Commerce, getting 153 yards on 28 carries... Senior DB Adam Contreras' first collegiate interception stopped a potential tying drive by the Lions in PSU territory and set up the Gorillas' final TD march... Former NFL long snapper Kendall Gammon will be among the inductees to the PSU Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday -- he completed a 15-year pro career in 2006...Junior QB Mark Smith's first collegiate start was against East Central last season -- he was 10-of-17 for 202 yards and 2 TDs.

Southwest Baptist: SBU had a 13-0 first-quarter lead slip away in last season's meeting against the Bison, who rallied to score 28 straight points for a 15-point third-quarter advantage... Senior WR Nick Smart had five catches for 59 yards in against Harding in 2006... SBU had only freshmen at the quarterback position on its preseason roster -- expect redshirt freshman Steven Gachette to be a leading candidate to lead the Bearcats in the opener... Southwest Baptist also returns its leading tackler in junior LB Jarred Shumpert (7.0 ttpg).

Truman: Junior WR Tyler Fenton's first catch as a Bulldog, a 36-yarder on fourth down, gave Truman the deciding points vs. Missouri-Rolla early in the fourth quarter... The Bulldogs had to stop the Miners on three fourth-quarter drives, including a last-ditch hook-and-lateral attempt as time expired to preserve the 38-31 win... Sophomore RB Phil Kenney had 186 all-purpose yards vs. UMR -- 101 on kick returns and 85 yards on eight rushes... Junior QB Matt Ticich logged 273 yards of total offense vs. the Miners -- 122 rushing and 151 passing.

Washburn: The Ichabods fell out of the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll with the loss to Chadron State, after starting the season at No. 25... Washburn attempted 41 passes vs. Chadron State, the first time surpassing the 40-throw mark in a game since 2002 (42 vs. MWSU)... Senior QB Jordan Brill is 32-of-52 passing vs. Colorado Mines for 657 yards and eight TDs -- he needs 86 yards to become the third Ichabod player with 5,000 through the air... WU head coach Craig Schurig is 2-1 all-time coaching against his alma mater (Colorado Mines 1987).


MIAA Football Players of the Week

For the week of play ending Aug. 26

Mark Smith, QB
Pittsburg State University

Smith, a 5-foot-11, 183-pound junior from Pittsburg, Kan., had a hand in all four touchdowns scored by the No. 7 Gorillas in their 28-14 win Saturday (Aug. 25) over Texas A&M-Commerce.

He was 10-of-13 passing for 144 yards with one interception and a 34-yard touchdown to Martin Burke in the first quarter.

Smith rushed for 70 yards on 16 carries, scoring on a 3-yard run in the first quarter and from 7 and 13 yards out in the fourth quarter to break a 14-14 tie.

Smith, who missed the second half of 2006 with a broken arm, is a graduate of St. Mary's Colgan High School.

Others Nominated: Jordan Hickel, RB, FHSU; Phil Kenney, RB, TSU.

Garret Feig, DB
Truman State University

Feig (pronounced with a long i, hard g), a 6-foot-0, 180-pound sophomore from Los Angeles, Calif., had two interceptions and seven tackles in a 38-31 win at Missouri-Rolla Saturday (Aug. 25).

Both of his interceptions came in Bulldogs territory to thwart UMR scoring drives. One came on the goal line, which Feig returned 48 yards to set up Truman's last TD of the second quarter. The second came on the Truman 18, one play after the Bulldogs had turned the ball over to the Miners.

Feig is a graduate of Birmingham High School, and transferred to Truman from Los Angeles Valley (Calif.) College after his freshman season.

Others Nominated: Kyle Flax, DB, FHSU; Jeremy Jackson, OLB, PSU; John Samia, SS, UCM

Bryan Haynes, KR
Fort Hays State University

Haynes, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior from Peoria, Ariz., averaged 52.5 yards on his two kickoff returns in the Tigers' 55-3 home win over Western (Colo.) State Saturday night (Aug. 25).

He returned the kickoff opening the third quarter 66 yards to the WSC 32, setting up FHSU's sixth TD drive of the game. A 39-yard return to the Western 46 following a Mountaineer field goal set up the Tigers' last TD.

Haynes, who also recovered the second of two blocked punts by the Tigers, is a graduate of Centennial High School, and transferred to FHSU from the University of Massachusetts following his sophomore season.

Others Nominated: Mickey Masucci, K, TSU.

-- MIAA --

MIAA Football Report No. 2
-- includes Wilson®/MIAA Players of the Week
OFFENSE: Jordan Brill, QB, WU
DEFENSE: Cary Williams, DB, WU

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