One of the most hyped games in Division II football this week quickly turned into a one-sided affair and then a rout as eight-ranked Northwest Missouri State beat fifth-ranked Nebraska-Omaha 42-0 Saturday at Caniglia Field.
It’s the largest margin of victory for the Bearcats (4-1, 3-0 MIAA) against a ranked team in program history and the first time Northwest has posted back-to-back shutouts since 1984.
Northwest’s offensive and defensive lines dominated the line of scrimmage and the Bearcats’ capitalized on several Maverick miscues.
Trailing 14-0 in the final minute of the first half, UNO quarterback Zach Miller ran an option without his running back. He turned and pitched to no one and Tyler Roach picked up the loose ball on the 9-yard line and galloped in for his first collegiate score.
The Mavericks (3-1, 2-1) were looking to run out the clock out in the final minute, but a Northwest timeout forced UNO to run a third-down play. It paid off and Northwest took a 21-0 lead into the break.
The UNO defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half, but Troy Kush misplayed the Northwest punt and Kevin Okonta was there to recover at midfield.
Blake Bolles entered at quarterback and led the Bearcats on a five-play, 49-yard drive. Bolles carried for 3, 5 and 15 yards before hitting Abe Qaoud for a 22-yard touchdown.
The exclamation point for Northwest was a 16-play, 77-yard touchdown drive that lasted nine minutes in the fourth quarter. The Bearcats converted two third downs, two fourth downs and scored on a 5-yard run by LaRon Council, who carried eight times during the drive. Joel Osborn hit Greg Applegate for a 19-yard completion down to the 5 on fourth down to set up Council.
Northwest’s final score came on a 55-yard interception return from Justin Welch.
Miller and Brian McNeill, the second and third leading rushers in the MIAA heading into Saturday, finished with 42 and 91 yards, respectively. Miller was 9-of-22 passing for 94 yards.