By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
The Northwest Missouri State football team advanced to the second round of the NCAA DII playoffs with a 50-21 triumph over Central Washington at Bearcat Stadium Saturday.
Junior quarterback Braden Wright passed for three three touchdowns and rushed for another. Senior running back Al McKeller recorded his third straight 100-yard rushing game and eighth of the season with 130 yards and two touchdowns.
"All of the credit to the offensive line," McKeller said. "It really wasn't hard to see anything. The holes were wide open and I was just doing my job hitting them and getting in the end zone."
Senior Imoni Donadelle caught a pair of scores and had 57 receiving yards. MIAA defensive player of the year Sam Roberts tallied three tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. Northwest generated 472 yards of total offense, including 217 yards rushing. Head coach Rich Wright said getting off to a fast start was key.
"They hadn't played in a close game in several weeks," coach Wright said of his team. "If we could come out quick and get them down early, we could create a little shadow of doubt for them, and we were able to do that. They gave us the football and we drove the field."
The Bearcats jumped out to a 27-7 lead at halftime and the result was never really in doubt after that.
Northwest will now travel to Searcy, Arkansas Saturday to take on the Harding University Bison.
Harding (11-1) scored a 30-14 win over Washburn Saturday to advance to the second round and earn the right to host Northwest. Kickoff in Saturday’s game is set for 1 p.m.
Coach Wright says he's thankful for the opportunity to travel with his team over the Thanksgiving weekend.
"My biggest thing to be thankful for in winning this playoff game is the fact that these guys are my family," he said. "That's the way we live this thing, and we get to have Thanksgiving together. I'm fired up about that. There's always something special about getting to practice with these guys on Thanksgiving morning and sitting down with them on Thanksgiving afternoon."
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