Northwest Missouri State reclaimed its familiar spot back at the top of the MIAA with a 31-7 thrashing of rival Pittsburg State on Saturday in Pittsburg.
The Bearcats snapped Pitt State's 11-game winning streak and moved into a tie with the Gorillas for first place at 5-1.
Northwest dominated the first half, outgoing Pitt 364-102 and taking a 28-0 lead into halftime.
“We knew we had to set the tone,” Northwest senior defensive end Austen Eskew told MIAA writer David Boyce. "We had to come out and keep their defense on the field because that means their offense can’t score. We had to give our offense chances and opportunities to score so we could score first. We focused on that a lot this week.
“We focused on playing to win. I think that is what we did great in the first half. It was a great team win. We wanted to play hard. It was awesome to watch.”
Northwest's Isaiah Strayhorn ran for 147 yards with a touchdown, while Braden Wright passed for 211 yards and two scores for the Bearcats. Northwest outgained Pitt State, 452-268.
LINDENWOOD LEAVING MIAA
Lindenwood University announced last week it will be leaving the MIAA for the Great Lakes Valley Conference beginning next school year.
Lindenwood, located in St. Charles, Mo., has been a member MIAA since 2012-13. The Lions have won 11 MIAA regular-season or tournament titles in baseball, women’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s soccer and wrestling.
“We wish Lindenwood great success in the GLVC," MIAA commissioner Mike Racy said in a news release. "While the timing of their departure is not ideal, we have committees and task forces looking at options for our 2019 sport schedules. Those issues will be resolved quickly and we will continue to build on our reputation as one of the most successful conferences in NCAA Division II."
Lindenwood’s departure leaves the MIAA with 11 members for football, but Lincoln, which had been playing in the GLVC for football only, is expected to return to playing football in the MIAA to fill the void.
MIAA PLAYERS OF WEEK
Emporia State received two players of the week honorees after the Hornets knocked off Fort Hays State 28-24 on Saturday in Emporia.
ESU quarterback Braxton Marstall was named co-offensive player of the week after he engineered a comeback win for the Hornets, throwing two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He finished with 289 yards through the air and three scores while adding 68 yards on the ground.
The Emporia product was 18-of-23 passing for 200 yards in the second half.
Hornets' linebacker Jace McDown was defensive player of the week after notching 12 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. The pick was the first of the Columbus native's career and he reached double figures in tackles for the fourth time this season.
Marstall shared the offensive honor with Northwest Strayhorn. Missouri Western kicker Sam Aviles was special teams player of the week after knocking in four field goals in the Griffons' 33-10 win over Missouri Southern.
What the polls say
Fort Hays State dropped out of the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll after 16 straight appearances in the poll.
The Tigers, who were ranked No. 18 before the ESU loss, received votes.
Northwest moved up three spots to No. 13 while Pittsburg State slipped 10 places to No. 18.
FHSU will play host to Pittsburg State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lewis Field Stadium. Northwest will play Nebraska-Kearney in Maryville, Mo.