By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
Northwest loses defensive battle with Grand Valley State
Top seed and undefeated Grand Valley State shut the door on the eighth ranked Bearcats season in a defensive bout, winning over the Northwest Missouri State 13-8 on Saturday in Allendale, Michigan.
Scoring was hard to find for both teams, as the first points of the game came late in the first quarter. Both Northwest and Grand Valley had turnovers early in the first quarter, Northwest throwing an interception just three plays into the game and Grand Valley State muffing a punt following a Bearcat three and out on the fifth drive of the game.
The first points of the game were scored by Grand Valley on the seventh drive of the game, a drive that consumed just over four minutes of clock going nine plays for 89 yards. The Lakers would get the ball with 5:51 left in the quarter and drive the field before Tariq Reed would get into the endzone from four yards out, giving Grand Valley a 7-0 lead.
The scoreboard would go quiet as the defenses battled through the rest of the half and no one would score again until late in the third quarter, when with 3:30 left in the third Cole Lammel would knock a field goal through to chip away at the lead. The field goal ended a 15 play drive that used up 7:09 of clock and went 82 yards.
While both defenses excelled on Saturday, the Bearcats was the only one to generate points on the very next drive following the field goal. With Northwest having the Lakers pinned at their own nine yard line, Elijah Green would get into the backfield and sack Cole Peterson forcing a fumble which Grand Valley would recover, however a tackle in the endzone would result in a safety, making the deficit even smaller at 7-5.
The Bearcats would take their first and only lead of the game in the fourth quarter. Once again it was late in the fourth following another long drive of 12 plays. The drive consumed just over six minutes of clock this time and with 3:49 left in the game, Lammel would knock through a 25 yard field goal, putting Northwest on top 8-7. But Grand Valley showed they were the top seed for a reason
The Lakers on the very next drive put together a five play and 72 yard drive using just under two minutes of clock, Reed finding the endzone again from seven yards out, pushing Grand Valley back in front 13-7.
That would give the Bearcats one more drive and after quarterback Mike Hohensee was sacked twice, and Northwest also had a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, with the ball at the Northwest five yard line Hohensee would throw an interception to Nyzier Fourqurean, his third interception of the game, and the Lakers would kneel out the final minute.
Hohensee completed 12 of 23 passes on the day for 237 yards, throwing two interceptions, while Braden Wright threw one interception as well. Kashan Griffin accounted for 171 total offensive yards for Northwest, catching five passes for 133 yards, his third 100 yard receiving game of the season, and returning two kickoffs for 38 yards.
Northwest ends their season with a 10-3 record. Grand Valley State will move onto play Ferris State, after Ferris pulled out a 17-14 victory over fellow MIAA team Pittsburgh State.
#5 Indiana Wesleyan slows down potent #6 Benedictine offense in win
The Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats slowed down a good Benedictine Raven offense and limited possession, coming out on top 24-13 on Saturday in Marion, Indiana.
The Ravens offense turned the ball over three times in the first half, but managed to only trail 21-6 when the halftime whistle blew. Indiana Wesleyan scored the only touchdown of the first quarter, a three yard touchdown pass from Xander Stokes to Jacquez Carter with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
Benedictine would respond early in the second quarter on an eight play drive that went 80 yards, Garrett Kettle finding Reed Levi on a 33 yard touchdown pass. However, the Ravens would go for two and Kettle would be unable to complete a pass, making Benedictine continue to trail 7-6.
The Wildcats would go on to score twice more later in the second quarter, both on passes from Stokes. The first came with 2:04 left in the half as Stokes found Carter again, this time for a 36 yard touchdown pass, and the second would come with 59 seconds left with Stokes getting the ball to Caden Currie on a 31 yard touchdown pass. Both extra points would be good pushing the lead at halftime to 21-6.
The final points of the game would come late in the third quarter, first on a 29 yard field goal by the Wildcats Ethan Collins, pushing the lead to 24-6 with 2:11 left in the third after a 13 play 58 yard drive that used just over eight and a half minutes of clock. And then on the ensuing drive Kettle would find Tanner Zimmerman from 24 yards out, cutting the lead to 24-13 after the Harry Balke extra point.
The Indiana Wesleyan defense was strong in the final play as every Benedictine drive ended with an interception, while the Wildcats drive were long and used to eat clock until they could kneel it out for the victory.
Kettle completed 13 of 25 passes for 189 yards and threw two touchdowns as well as four interceptions. Rayshon Mills was just shy of the century mark, rushing seven times for 92 yards, while Jacob Gathright and Zimmerman each had three catches, for 51 and 46 yards respectively, and Zimmerman caught one of Kettle's two touchdowns.
Benedictine ends their season with an 11-2 record.
Missouri now bowl eligible with win over Arkansas
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Arkansas will be headed to similar bowl games after the Tigers held off the Razorbacks 29-27 on Saturday night, leaving each of the bitter border rivals 6-6 on the season.
Only one walked out of Faurot Field with victory cigars.
Brady Cook threw for 242 yards and a touchdown while running for 138 yards and a score, and Missouri's defense stuffed Arkansas when it mattered in the fourth quarter, allowing the Tigers to avenge last year's loss to the Razorbacks.
“We wanted it so bad," admitted Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz, who said he bought cigars for the entire team in anticipation of reaching bowl eligibility. “We tried not to make it bigger than it was, but we were playing for more.”
Cody Schrader added 97 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Dominic Lovett — who had to ditch his own lit cigar on the way to the postgame new conference — had six catches for 130 yards, helping the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 SEC) qualify for a third bowl game in Drinkwitz's first three seasons in Columbia.
“We only won by two,” Lovett said after smacking the tobacco taste out of his mouth, “but a win's a win. We got it done.”
Arkansas (6-6, 4-4 SEC) had the ball twice with less than 8 minutes left and a chance to drive for a go-ahead field goal, but the Tigers forced three-and-outs both times and essentially ran out the clock on their first league win in a month.
“We've all been through hell — can I say hell? Well, I just said it twice,” Lovett said. “It was a good day all around.”
The Razorbacks' KJ Jefferson threw for 205 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while running for a score, though he was constantly harassed by Missouri's aggressive defensive front. Raheim Sanders, the league's second-leading rusher, was held to just 47 yards on the ground with a touchdown reception.
“We’ve got a very disappointed locker room right now and we’d certainly like to get this taste out of our mouth in a bowl game,” Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman said, “but this is going to be hard to get rid of.”
Missouri actually scored on each of its first four drives yet still trailed at halftime.
That's because the Razorbacks were better at reaching the end zone.
While the Tigers got touchdown runs from Schrader and Cook to cap long drives, they also had to settle for a pair of field goals from Harrison Mevis, including a chipshot after a drive stalled at the Arkansas 10 late in the first half.
The Razorbacks were forced to punt twice, thanks to Missouri's pass rush, but they also got a short TD run from Jefferson and his touchdown pass to Matt Landers. And when the Razorbacks got the ball back with 5 1/2 minutes before the break, they breezed 75 yards down field and Jefferson hit Sanders out of the backfield for a 21-20 lead.
Missouri regained the lead in the third quarter when Luther Burden III caught a short pass, put a move on the Razorbacks' Quincey McAdoo, and reached the end zone from 23 yards out. And after Jefferson was picked off moments later, Mevis hit his third field goal to give the Tigers a 29-21 advantage.
The Razorbacks had a chance to retake the lead in the fourth quarter, after they'd closed to within 29-24, but they couldn't get into the end zone after first-and-goal at the Missouri 2 and Pittman settled for another field goal.
That wound up being the difference in the game.
“We felt like coming in here we were ready to go,” Pittman said, “and physically we just got whipped.”
Both Missouri and Arkansas will now await their bowl fates, which will most likely be announced after conference championships sometime next week.
Huskers keep Iowa out of Big Ten championship with big upset win
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Casey Thompson threw for three touchdowns, and Nebraska ruined Iowa’s chance to clinch the Big Ten West Division title outright with a 24-17 win on Friday.
The Huskers (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten) snapped a five-game losing streak. Iowa (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Thompson threw touchdown passes of 87 and 18 yards to Trey Palmer in the first half and a 14-yarder to Marcus Washington in the third quarter as Nebraska built a 24-0 lead.
Thompson completed 20 of 30 passes for 278 yards. Palmer had nine catches for 165 yards.
“I didn’t feel like they could guard any of our receivers,” Thompson said. “I definitely didn’t think they could run with Trey. And obviously that showed.”
“We felt good with our receivers against their defensive backs,” Nebraska interim head coach Mickey Joseph said. “We thought they were going to have trouble guarding Trey. We talked to Trey this morning, ‘Just use your speed. Don’t tiptoe through them.'”
Nebraska broke a seven-game losing streak to Iowa.
Asked how much the Huskers wanted to beat their rival, Palmer said, “Real bad. Very, very bad. Had it on our mind the whole week we were going to do it. And we went out there and did it.”
“We told them, ‘You let Wisconsin off last week (a 15-14 loss). Don’t let Iowa off,'” Joseph said.
Palmer, who became Nebraska's all-time leader in single-season receiving yards with 1,043, felt he could have a big game against the Hawkeyes, even if they came into the game ranked sixth nationally in passing defense.
“They can’t guard me,” Palmer said. “That’s all I saw. They can’t guard me, they can’t run with me.”
“Our goal was to take the top off of their defense today, and we did a good job of that," Thompson said. “We knew they would have to cover in space. We tried to get Trey matched up.”
Iowa lost cornerback Cooper DeJean in the first quarter to an injury. That left the Hawkeyes with sophomore Jamison Heinz and freshman T.J. Hall working at cornerback. Palmer beat Hall on both touchdowns.
“It impacted us a great deal,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It's a big loss, because (DeJean) is such a versatile player.”
Iowa had a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes, getting the ball twice in the last 3:20 after closing to within 24-17 on a 45-yard field goal by Drew Stevens. But backup quarterback Alex Padilla threw incomplete on fourth down on the first possession. Nebraska linebacker Chris Kolarevic’s interception with 42 seconds left completed the Huskers’ win.
“The reality is we made it too much of a hill to climb,” Ferentz said.
“I wanted to really blow them out, finish them off,” Palmer said. “I didn’t want to play with them."
The Hawkeyes need losses by Purdue and Illinois on Saturday to have a chance at back-to-back West Division titles.
Iowa lost starting quarterback Spencer Petras to an injury in the first quarter after he was hit and lost a fumble. The turnover led to Timmy Bleekrode’s 21-yard field goal and a 10-0 Huskers lead. Padilla also lost a fumble that led to Nebraska’s second touchdown.
Kaleb Johnson, who rushed for 109 yards, gave the Hawkeyes their first score with a 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Padilla threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lachey in the fourth quarter.
Padilla completed 16 of 33 passes for 141 yards.
New head coach in place for Huskers as Nebraska hires Matt Rhule
After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to Matt Rhule to rebuild its football program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference.
Rhule signed an eight-year contract to be the Cornhuskers' next coach and will be introduced Monday at a news conference, the school announced Saturday.
The 47-year-old Rhule quickly turned around downtrodden programs at Temple and Baylor before leaving for the NFL to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him in October after he started his third season with four losses in five games.
“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska football program,” Rhule said in a statement. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska is right at the top of the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can’t wait to get started.”
Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and left with about $40 million remaining on the seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract he signed in 2020. The contract made Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.
Nebraska said it would release details of Rhule's contract on Monday.
“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife, Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” athletic director Trev Alberts said. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program.
"Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”
About an hour after Rhule's hiring was announced, wide receiver Trey Palmer announced on Instagram that he would declare for the NFL draft. Palmer, who transferred from LSU after last season, had three 150-yard games this year and set the Huskers' single-season record with 1,043 yards.
The Huskers are among eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins, and they have won or shared five national championships. The last one came in 1997 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.
Five coaches have come and gone since then, most recently the quarterback of that '97 team, Scott Frost.
Alberts fired Frost on Sept. 11 after the Huskers opened 1-2, with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and to Georgia Southern at home. They were 3-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph and finished the season 4-8 following a 24-17 win at Iowa on Friday.
Nebraska was 16-31 in four-plus seasons under Frost, never finishing higher than fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.
In four seasons at Temple, Rhule coached the Owls to 28 wins. That included 26 from 2014-16. Temple was 10-4 in 2015 and reached the American Athletic Conference’s inaugural championship game. In 2016, Rhule led the Owls to a 10-3 record and an AAC championship. The conference title was the first in 49 seasons for the Temple program, and the Owls reached bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
Rhule was named Baylor’s coach in December 2016 in the wake of an investigation that found the private Baptist university had not responded adequately to allegations of sexual assault by players, resulting in the firing of Art Briles.
Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the next season. In his third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, played in the Big 12 championship game and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.
Rhule’s collegiate success provided him the opportunity to take over as the Carolina Panthers' head coach in 2020. He guided the Panthers to five wins in each of his first two seasons before this year's 1-4 start got him fired.
Rhule has ties to the Big Ten. He moved from New York City to State College, Pennsylvania, as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97 and began his coaching there as a volunteer assistant.
Kansas State headed to Big 12 Championship with win over Kansas
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Will Howard threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, Deuce Vaughn ran for 147 yards and a score, and No. 15 Kansas State pounded Kansas 47-27 on Saturday night to earn a shot at payback against TCU in the Big 12 championship game.
Malik Knowles added a pair of touchdown runs, and Philip Brooks and Sammy Wheeler also reached the end zone, as the Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) beat their biggest rival for the 14th straight time in a game they needed to win.
Kansas State blew a 28-10 lead and lost 38-28 to the Horned Frogs during the regular season. Now, they'll face each other again on Dec. 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with a College Football Playoff spot likely on the line for TCU.
It will be the first time the Wildcats play in the Big 12 title game, which went on hiatus from 2010-17, since toppling then-No. 1 Oklahoma in 2003 during Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder's first tenure. The Horned Frogs were beaten by the Sooners in their only previous appearance in the 2017 championship game.
Jalon Daniels threw for 168 yards while running for a touchdown, and Devin Neal also had two TD runs, as the Jayhawks — bowl-bound for the first time since 2008 — finished the regular season by losing six of their final seven games.
Kansas (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) made enough mistakes in the first quarter alone Saturday night to fill an entire game.
The result was a hole it could never escape.
The trouble began when O.J. Burroughs muffed a punt after a nice stand by the Jayhawks' defense, and Knowles needed one play to scoot in from the 5 for a touchdown. And after Kansas answered with a 75-yard scoring drive, its defense blew the coverage on Wheeler on a 42-yard touchdown pass.
On the ensuing kickoff, Trevor Wilson was mobbed at the 10-yard line, and another penalty on the return buried the Kansas offense. On third down, Bryce Cabeldue was called for holding in the end zone to give Kansas State a safety.
After the free kick, the Wildcats cruised to the end zone again for a 23-7 lead after one quarter.
The game soon turned into a track meet: Kansas marched through a suddenly driving rainstorm for two quick touchdowns around another score by the Wildcats, leaving them with a 30-21 advantage heading into the break.
Another major mistake by Kansas — a fumble by Torry Locklin in the third quarter — gave the Wildcats another short field, and Vaughn carried eight times on a nine-play drive before finding the end zone and putting the game out of reach.