MIAA Football Report No. 3

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A battle between top 25 nationally-ranked teams highlights the third and final weekend of non-conference football action on the 2007 MIAA football schedule.

No. 2 Northwest Missouri State (0-0, 0-0 MIAA), which had its season-opener wiped out due to lightning, will try again to start the campaign with a trip to face future conference member and 11th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha Saturday night.

The Bearcats have not won at Al Caniglia Field since a 22-21 playoff victory back in 1996 -- the Mavericks have won the last three meetings against Northwest in the Cornhusker State. Nebraska-Omaha defeated Nebraska-Kearney, 41-24, last weekend to open the season.

The Missouri Western Griffons (1-0, 0-0 MIAA) head to Minnesota-Duluth, like UNO a member of the North Central Conference. UMD knocked off then-No. 20 Bemidji (Minn.) State, 31-14, to open the season.

This is the first meeting between the Griffons and the Bulldogs in football.

After a week off from action, Central Missouri (0-1, 0-0 MIAA) will host the only afternoon game among the eight scheduled, as Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference visits Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

It is the first time the Golden Bears and Mules have faced each other on the gridiron. CUSP edged Augustana (S.D.), 20-19, last Saturday (Sept. 1).

Missouri Southern (1-0, 0-0 MIAA) plays its home opener Saturday when Harding (Ark.) visits Fred G. Hughes Stadium. The Lions will be trying for their second win in as many attempts against the Bisons, who defeated Southwest Baptist (0-1, 0-0 MIAA), 43-40, last Thursday (Aug. 30) in Searcy, Ark.

After taking a week off following the program's first season-opening win in seven years, Fort Hays State (1-0, 0-0 MIAA) hosts Colorado Mines ay Lewis Field Stadium. The Tigers fell last season to the Orediggers, 31-24, in Golden.

CSM is coming off a 27-7 home setback against Washburn (1-1, 0-0 MIAA) last weekend.
The last of the four MIAA squads at home this week is Truman (1-0, 0-0 MIAA), which puts its new lighting system at Stokes Stadium to work when Upper Iowa of the NSIC comes to town.

The Bulldogs are looking for their third win in as many tries all-time against the Peacocks. UIU downed Loras (Iowa), 38-11, last weekend.

All four games hosted by MIAA schools are scheduled to be available for viewing on themiaa.tv at a cost of $5.95 per game.

Elsewhere, SBU plays at former MIAA foe and now Division I Football Championship Subdivision member Southeast Missouri State. The two squads split their four meetings while conference foes. The Redhawks lost at Cincinnati (Ohio), 59-3, last Saturday.

Emporia State (1-0, 0-0 MIAA) will try to build on their season-opening win with a trip to Central Oklahoma of the Lone Star Conference. UCO downed then-No. 11 Abilene Christian (Texas), 27-17.

The Hornets won their last meeting with the Bronchos back in 1999, 28-25 -- UCO was the No. 2-ranked team in the nation at the time.

NCAA DECLARES NORTHWEST/ATU GAME TERMINATED: The result of the football contest played August 23 between Arkansas Tech and Northwest Missouri State, which was limited to less than a quarter due to severe lightning and storms, was decided on a conference call on Friday (Aug. 31) between the NCAA and the institutions.

t was agreed on this call, which was coordinated by the NCAA, that the game was terminated and, therefore, neither school will be credited with a win or a loss. Play was halted with two minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter, with Northwest Missouri State leading the game by a 21-0 score.

NCAA statistics policies for football require at least three quarters of competition for inclusion, which was part of the rationale in making the decision.

Input from both institutions and conferences, as well as the NCAA Football Rules Committee and NCAA Division II Football Committee were considered during the conference call.

OMON WATCH: Northwest Missouri State senior RB Xavier Omon enters the 2007 season fifth on the MIAA's career rushing list with 4,736 yards.

He needs 264 yards to join the MIAA's 5,000-yard club. Omon enters the season needing 1,041 yards to pass Pittsburg State's Ronald Moore (1989-92 -- 5,776) for fourth place on the conference list.

Omon starts the season tied with Pitt State's Neal Philpot (2001-04) for 10th on the MIAA career scoring list with 360 points. His first TD will tie Omon with PSU's Darren Dawson (1989-91 -- 366) for ninth and he needs 24 points to reach Central Missouri's Kegan Coleman (2001-04 -- 384) in eighth place.

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 pass Southeast Missouri State's Abe Stuber (1932-46) for sole possession of 10th on the all-time wins list with 73.

Team-by-Team Notes

Central Missouri: The Mules are 4-0 against current members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference -- 2-0 vs. both Winona (Minn.) State and Upper Iowa... UCM is 9-1 in home openers with Willie Fritz as head coach -- the only loss coming at the hands of Northwest Missouri State in 2004... The Mules are trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 1991... Long plays were the Achilles heel for UCM vs. Minnesota State-Mankato on Aug. 23 -- the Mavericks had four plays account for 211 yards and two TDs, while the other 62 plays netted just 207 yards... The Mules are 27-9 following a loss with Fritz as head coach.

Emporia State: The Hornets have two wins and a tie in the previous 12 meetings against UCO... The win over Western State snapped a seven-game losing skid which ESU ended last season... The discovery of a scoring error cost sophomore RB Justin Wieser 30 rushing yards vs. the Mountaineers -- his total changes to 156 yards on 21 carries... The seven points scored in the win over WSC were the fewest in an ESU victory since a 5-0 shutout in 1989 over Harding (Ark.)... UCO head coach Chuck Langston returns this week after being suspended by the school for the Bronchos' week one win in the wake of alleged NCAA violations.

Fort Hays State: The Tigers are seeking back-to-back wins for the first time in head coach Kevin Verdugo's tenure -- FHSU finished the 2004 season with five in a row... While the Tigers lead the series with CSM, 13-7, the Orediggers have won five of the last six meetings, including the last three... This is the first season since 1995 in which the Tigers open with two home games (They were 1-0-1 that season)... Senior RB Jordan Hickel's four-TD performance Aug. 25 vs. Western State was the first by a Tiger since Dustin Demel had four in 2002 vs. Fort Lewis (Colo.).

Missouri Southern: Every touchdown scored by MSSU in the game at Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.) was done by a player that entered the game scoreless as a collegian... The win over HINU was the 200th in the history of Southern football -- the Lions are 200-194-7 (.507) in the their 39th season of competition... Senior WR Colin Bado, who led Division II in receptions per game in 2006, failed to register a catch in a game for the first time in his Lions career... Freshman RB Renard Johnson had 148 yards rushing on eight carries with a touchdown in his first collegiate game.

Missouri Western: The defense gave the Griffons their first two touchdowns of the 2007 season, as both junior DL Soane Etu (41 yards) and senior FS J.R. Graham (36) returned fumbles for scores in the first quarter vs. Baker (Kan.)... Graham also had a team-high 10 tackles vs. the Wildcats... MWSU is 2-3-1 against current North Central Conference foes -- 1-1 vs. South Dakota and Minnesota State-Mankato, 0-1 vs. St. Cloud (Minn.) State and 0-0-1 vs. Augustana (S.D.)... Junior K Dustin Strickler extended his consecutive extra points streak to 35 with six vs. BU... The Griffons were 4-3 on the road in 2006.

Northwest Missouri State: The Bearcats are 8-10-1 all time against Nebraska-Omaha, but 5-3 with Mel Tjeerdsma as head coach... Senior QB Josh Mathews was 14-of-21 for 257 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in last season's meeting with UNO, a 31-0 shutout at Bearcat Stadium... Last season's blanking of the Mavericks was the first by the Bearcats over UNO since a 26-0 win in 1947... Senior RB Xavier Omon scored twice in last season's meeting with the Mavericks, registering 59 yards on 18 carries.

Pittsburg State: The Gorillas are idle this week after going 2-0 in their non-conference schedule... Senior ILB Jason Northern led the PSU defense with 10 tackles (three solos) and a quarterback sack, as the Gorillas limited East Central (Okla.) to 124 yards of offense in the first three quarters... Junior OLB Myles Jennings returned an interception 31 yards for PSU's final score... Junior QB Mark Smith passed for 224 yards against the Tigers.

Southwest Baptist: Redshirt freshman QB Steven Gachette set SBU single-game marks for passes attempted (61) and completed (40) -- while throwing for 379 yards with four TDs and rushing for 55 more yards (434 total offense) vs. Harding (Ark.)... Gachette also mistakenly spiked the ball on third-and-9 from the SBU 7 with 1:15 left, helping save time for the Bisons -- which were without a timeout -- to make a final game-winning drive... Senior WR Nick Smart caught 14 passes for 148 yards, including SBU's first two TDs from Gachette, while senior WR LaMarcus Windham added eight grabs for 99 yards and a TD.

Truman: The Truman/Upper Iowa game had originally been scheduled for 3 p.m., but was moved to 7:15 p.m. after the lights had been installed at Stokes Stadium... A brief address from student representatives is slated for 6:50 p.m.... This will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Peacocks since 1965 -- the only other previous meeting came in 1941... Truman has out-scored UIU, 75-12, in the all-time series.

Washburn: The Ichabods are idle after evening their slate at 1-1 with a 27-7 win at Colorado Mines last Saturday (Sept. 1)... The WU defense forced five turnovers (four interceptions and a fumble) -- the last being a 32-yard return of a pick by senior LB Adam Ewy for the final touchdown of the game... Besides sophomore LB Zack Watkins' 19 tackles which earned him MIAA Player of the Week honors, sophomore LB Michael Krajcek added 15 stops (six solos)... Senior RB Ra'Shawn Mosley collected 95 rushing yards and two TDs, including the go-ahead score with 1:01 left in the third... Senior P Ben Boswell averaged 45.8 yards on five punts at CSM.

MIAA Football Players of the Week

For the week of play ending Sept. 2

Caleb Farabi, TB
Pittsburg State University

Farabi, a 5-foot-7, 178-pound junior from Pittsburg, Kan., scored a career-high four touchdowns and logged his second 100-yard rushing game in as many tries during the No. 7 Gorillas' 41-15 win over East Central (Okla.) Saturday night (Sept. 1).

He had 26 carries for 130 yards -- with no run longer than 18 yards on the evening. He scored the go-ahead TD from 9 yards away in the second quarter, and added end zone runs of 7 and 3 yards in the period to help PSU take a 24-3 halftime lead.

His fourth TD -- a 3-yard run in the third quarter -- was the only scoring in the frame for either team. He added three receptions for 20 yards as well.

Farabi is a graduate of St. Mary's Colgan High School.

Others Nominated: Steven Gachette, QB, SBU; Renard Johnson, RB, MSSU; La'Darrian Page, RB, MWSU; Justin Wieser, RB, ESU

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Mark Smith, QB, PSU.

Zach Watkins, ILB
Washburn University

Watkins, a 6-foot-0, 230-pound sophomore from Independence, Mo., logged a career-high 19 tackles and had a hand in two of the five turnovers forced by the Ichabods in their 27-7 road win at Colorado Mines Saturday (Sept. 1).

He had eight solo stops, and logged a tackle for loss as well. Watkins is the first WU player to get 19 tackles since Joe Corcoran did it in 2002.

He picked off an Orediggers pass to halt a drive at the WU 17 and kept the game scoreless late in the first quarter. Watkins recovered a fumble by teammate Cary Williams' during an interception return which led to the Ichabods' first touchdown.

Watkins, who shared the 2006 MIAA Freshman of the Year award, is a graduate of Truman High School.

Others Nominated: J.R. Graham, FS, MWSU; Jason Northern, LB, PSU; Jake Richter, S, ESU.

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Garret Feig, DB, TSU.

Jared Witter, K/P
Pittsburg State University

Witter, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound freshman from Lenexa, Kan., made all six of his placement kicks and averaged 43.3 yards on three punts in No. 7 PSU's 41-15 win over East Central (Okla.) Saturday (Sept. 1).

He made field goals of 25 and 22 yards and drilled all four of his extra-point tries. Witter inherited the punting duties early in the game and responded by placing two inside the 20 and hitting a 49-yard kick.

Witter, who averaged 62.5 yards on eight kickoffs as well, is a graduate of Overland Park (Kan.)-Shawnee Mission West High School.

Others Nominated: Ben Boswell, P, WU; Jamie Hanson, P, MWSU; Johnny Torres, K/P, ESU.

Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Bryan Haynes, KR, FHSU.

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