KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Down 15-8 at halftime, No. 2 Northwest Missouri State knew it needed a big play early in the third quarter to seize the momentum from MIAA rival Pittsburg State.
Fifty-one seconds into the second half, backup quarterback Brady Bolles scored on an 8-yard run, and the Bearcats tied the game with the ensuing extra point.
“Our coaches preach that the most important drive of the game is the first drive of the second half,” said Bolles, a former Lincoln North Star standout who entered in the second quarter after starter Trevor Adams injured his shoulder. “Our defense had been playing a great game. We had to go out and show them some love because they gave us great field position all game.”
Bolles scored again later in the third quarter, and the Bearcats (7-0) added a safety late in the fourth quarter en route to a 24-15 win over the seventh-rated Gorillas at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It was huge to hold them scoreless in the second half,” said Northwest junior linebacker DJ Gnader from Council Bluffs Lewis Central. “We go into the locker room at halftime and we got some guys hanging their heads. The seniors and couple leaders on the team continued telling them, ‘Keep your heads up. We have been in this situation before. We battled adversity already this year.’”
Robert Burton led Northwest Missouri State with 90 yards on 15 carries. Bolles rushed 18 times for 57 yards and the two touchdowns. He also threw for 114 yards on 8-of-16 passing.
For Pittsburg, quarterback Anthony Abenoja was 12 of 26 for 196 yards and a touchdown. The Bearcats, however, intercepted two Abenoja passes and sacked him five times. Northwest Missouri also recovered both of the Gorillas’ fumbles.
NW Missouri State (7-0, 6-0) ............................ 0 8 14 2—24
At Pittsburg State (6-1, 5-1) ............................ 7 8 0 0—15
PS: Marquise Cushon 37 pass from Anthony Abenoja (Connor Frazell kick)
NWM: Team safety
NWM: Reuben Thomas 6 pass from Brady Bolles (pass failed)
PS: Jeff Seybold 1 run (Connor Combes pass from Abenoja)
NWM: Bolles 8 run (Ben Trewyn kick)
NWM: Bolles 10 run (Trewyn kick)
NWM: Team safety