WARRENSBURG, Mo. — There stood Mike Hohensee, directly on the easternmost sideline at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, just moments prior to Northwest football’s eventual 47-7 win against Central Missouri Saturday afternoon
It was only eight days prior to that moment that Hohensee found out he was going to start against the Mules.
Braden Wright, who had started the last 27 games at quarterback for Northwest, underwent emergency surgery Sept. 10, a procedure that will keep the junior sidelined for six to eight weeks.
“I mean, I was in shock,” Hohensee said. “I was also excited for the opportunity. I felt bad for Braden, but he’s been helping me all week — we were texting about film, he wished us luck before the game and said he’d be going crazy at home.”
After the Mules (0-3) won the coin toss, Central coach Jim Svoboda elected to defer to the second half, forcing Hohensee and Northwest’s offense to show their hand first.
That proved to be an errant decision for Central’s head coach when Hohensee broke through Central’s defense for a 33-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bearcats (2-0) a 7-0 lead with 10:47 left in the first quarter.
Hohensee further proved it, too, when he found senior wideout Kaden Davis for a 41-yard touchdown on Northwest’s next possession, giving the Bearcats a 14-0 lead less than four minutes after their initial score.
“I mean, I’ve been preparing to play for four years,” Hohensee said in the aftermath of the 100th overall matchup between Northwest and Central. “This didn’t really come as a big shock to me. I was nervous, but it’s not like I wasn’t prepared.”
Those two scores were the beginning of the onslaught for Northwest’s dominant win, and the beginning of the end of the game for the Mules.
The Bearcats scored on their first four possessions of the game before being forced to punt on their fifth. Throughout those first four, though, Hohensee was 8-of-10 for 167 yards passing and two touchdowns to go along with 41 yards rushing and two scores on three carries.
“I’ve been here since 2019, and we’ve done a lot of routes on air together,” said Davis, who finished the game with 104 yards receiving and two touchdowns on four receptions. “I have full trust in Mike. I knew he was going to step up and do his thing.”
It was Hohensee who continued to showcase his talents throughout the entirety of three quarters, finishing the day 14-of-18 with 260 yards passing and four touchdowns, along with two first-half rushing touchdowns. It was in the fourth that Northwest football coach Rich Wright elected to replace Hohensee with redshirt freshman quarterback Joseph Krause.
In the absence of Braden Wright, who led Northwest on a game-sealing drive against Fort Hays in Week 1, Hohensee was everything the Bearcats needed him to be.
“He was ready for his opportunity,” Northwest football coach Rich Wright said. “He got a chance to come out here and get a start, and he played very well.”
One of the notable differences in Northwest’s offense from Week 1 to Week 3 was the lack of any 100-yard rusher. Senior running back Al McKeller, who transferred to Northwest from the University of Indianapolis, turned 28 carries into 161 yards and a touchdown during the 15-7 win against Fort Hays.
Against the Mules, McKeller was good enough for 95 yards on 14 carries. Despite the lack of any notable rushes throughout the game, McKeller was on the receiving end of a 44-yard touchdown from Hohensee on the Bearcats' third drive.
But McKeller didn’t need to be the hero against Central, mostly because Hohensee assumed that role, but in part because it wasn’t what the Mules’ defense was presenting to the Bearcats’ offense.
The win against Central, Rich Wright said, displayed the versatility of Northwest’s offense.
“I think you got a good glimpse at what we can be, offensively, when things are firing on all cylinders,” Rich Wright said. “The thing that’s going to make us hard to defend going forward is accentuating different people in different games and taking what the defense provides.”
In the aftermath of the win, Hohensee didn’t want to take credit for his six-touchdown performance. He didn’t want the spotlight to be on him, so he elected to shine it on nearly everyone else.
“Really, I just had help all around,” Hohensee said. “Our running backs ran hard, our line blocked great, our receivers ran great routes and got open, our defense was shutting them out — just a team win.”
Now, with a start in his arsenal and an unblemished record, Hohensee will lead the Bearcats to make their Bearcat Stadium debut Sept. 25 against Central Oklahoma (1-2).
“We know every time we go to Bearcat Stadium, they’re crazy-loud and there’s always a good turnout,” Hohensee said. “We’re ready to put on a show for them next week.”