NW Missouri State beats Grand Valley State 27-13
Reuben Thomas caught seven passes for 143 yards and two
touchdowns to elevate Northwest Missouri State to a 27-13 victory
over Grand Valley State in an NCAA Division II semifinal on
The Bearcats (14-0) advanced to their eighth national
championship game in program history and will face Lenoir-Rhyne in
the first meeting between the two programs.
Following a two-turnover first half, the Bearcats mounted two
lengthy scoring drives to separate from the Lakers. Trevor Adams
found Thomas down the seam for a 43-yard touchdown midway through
the fourth quarter that delivered the game’s decisive blow.
Adams also hit Thomas for a 28-yard touchdown early in the third
quarter to give Northwest a 20-6 lead.
Grand Valley (12-3) struck back with Heath Parling’s
high-arching 4-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jamie Potts to
cut Northwest’s lead to 20-13 with 2 seconds remaining in the third
The Lakers forced a Bearcats punt from the Grand Valley 43-yard
line but couldn’t convert a potential game-tying drive after
Northwest Missouri defensive tackle Bryant Hummel’s third-down sack
Following the Lakers’ final punt, Thomas broke free and gave
Northwest Missouri a 3-2 all-time advantage in the momentous
Thomas was a one-time Utah State commit before failing to
complete enough classes in time for the 2011 season. He spent the
past two years out of football, waiting for a chance to continue
his career and made his opportunity as junior walk-on pay off
handsomely for Northwest against Grand Valley – the Bearcats’ most
fearsome playoff nemesis over the past decade.
Saturday represented the fifth meeting between Northwest,
champions of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association,
and Grand Valley (fourth place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference). Each game had come in either a national
semifinal or a championship game.
Official reviews came into play often in a sloppy first half.
After Grand Valley free safety Erik Thompson swung momentum by
recovering Adams’ fumbled snap as Northwest looked to be attempting
a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a score, the Lakers marched deep
into Bearcats territory thanks to two reviews.
Initially, officials ruled Parling’s third-and-long pass to
Potts incomplete, but replays confirmed Potts’ right foot came down
inbounds for a 29-yard gain. Five plays later, Jamie Pitts juggled
an 18-yard pass as he tumbled out of bounds, but a second replay
review upheld the questionable grab to move the Lakers to the
Grand Valley couldn’t capitalize, however. The Lakers ran on
third-and-7 and picked up just 1 yard. Joel Schipper, who made two
field goals earlier to give Grand Valley a 6-0 first-quarter lead,
missed a 34-yard try and gave Northwest another opportunity.
After quickly motoring downfield, the Bearcats committed their
third turnover of the half when Grand Valley cornerback Reggie
Williams stripped Korey Jackson while attempting to stretch for
additional yardage. Officials overturned the close call despite the
ball appearing to move just prior to Jackson’s knee touching the
Simon Mathiesen kicked a 19-yard field goal to close the sloppy
period with Northwest up 10-6.
The national championship game kicks off at 11 a.m., Dec. 21, at
Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala.