Story and photo courtesy of Northwest Missouri State Athletics
– A group of underclassmen helped lead 11th-ranked Northwest Missouri State to a 62-21 win over Emporia State on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Bearcat Stadium.
The effort provided by the senior class helped set up the Bearcats (9-2, 7-2) all season long. Northwest tallied five sacks including a key sack from senior Josh Lorenson while outstanding offensive line play led by senior Cody Johnson paved the way for the Bearcats to rush for 349 yards.
“Cody has done an outstanding job leading that group and today may have been one of their best efforts up front,” said head coach Adam Dorrel who finishes his first regular season at the helm of the Bearcats at 9-2. “Jordan (Simmons) and James (Franklin) are so talented and great weapons to have. They really help complete our offensive unit.”
The duo nearly reached 100 yards apiece as James Franklin finished with a career high 229 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart Jordan Simmons was also impressive, rushing nine times for 96 yards and four scores. Twice on the ground and one receiving and a special teams score.
Simmons put the Bearcats on the scoreboard first with a 3-yard run to cap a six play 41-yard drive.
Emporia State (5-6, 3-6) marched back down the field to even the score with their own 3-yard touchdown run. The Hornets would not muster much more offensively as the Bearcat defense limited the ESU rushing attack 100 yards under their average as Northwest scored three more times to build a 28-14 halftime lead.
Simmons added a second rushing touchdown and another receiving on an out pattern that left the junior wide open near the sideline as he easily crossed the goal line.
The Bearcats final touchdown of the half would come on Bryce Enyard’s sixth interception of the year. Enyard jumped in-front of a throw-back pass to Hornet’s quarterback Tyler Eckenrode and scamper 59-yards to the end zone.
Northwest would quickly add to their lead scoring 42 unanswered points to open the second half.
After a 24-yard Todd Adolf field goal, Franklin got his first taste of the Bearcat scoring barrage as he broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run. Franklin would score just over two minutes later when the Bearcat defense forced a quick three-and-out, but the Hornet punt pinned Northwest in the shadow of their own goal line.
Franklin took the first play from the Bearcats own 1-yard, to the ESU 26-yard line. He would find pay dirt just three plays later from 5-yards out to give Northwest a 45-14 lead.
Senior Chad Kilgore would put a stop to the ESU offense forcing another Hornet punt. Kilgore finished with nine tackles as on the ensuing punt Northwest would vault over 50 points for the eighth time this season as Simmons found an opening and jaunted 46-yards down the sideline for his third special teams score of the year.
The Bearcats would add 10 more points on a second Adolf field goal and a 23-yard run from Kohlman Adema-Schulte.
Northwest is almost assured their eighth consecutive playoff berth, but will wait to see where they are placed when the NCAA Division II playoffs selections are announced Sunday at 4 p.m. on ncaa.com.
Bearcat coaches and players will gather at Carson’s Bar & Grill in downtown Maryville as fans are also invited to join the watch party.