In last years match up with Missouri Southern, Northwest football racked up 63 points in a dominating shutout. This years meeting went much the same way.
The score of 63-0 repeated Sept. 15 at Bearcat Stadium as the Bearcats (3-0) tamed the Lions (0-3) in a game that was dominated early and often.
The barrage of scoring for the No.4 ranked Bearcats began midway through the first quarter as senior running back Josh Caldwell powered in a seven-yard run. After stymieing the Lions offense Northwest took over on downs at its own 25 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.
That’s when redshirt freshman quarterback Braden Wright launched a rocket down field to senior wideout Shawn Bane Jr., who hauled in the catch and scampered the rest of the way into the endzone for a 75-yard score. This extended the early lead to 14-0 with 2:51 still remaining in the first.
For Bane, the burst of explosiveness was a welcomed sight after his 2017 season was spent wearing a brace recovering from a knee injury.
“Without that knee brace I just felt like I’ve raised my level,” Bane said. “Coach challenged me over the summer to raise my level and help the offense as much as possible. I definitely feel in great condition.”
To close the scoring for Bane he electrified the crowd with a 88-yard punt return just before halftime. Wright continued his impressive showing in the young season tossing for 267 yards on 15-22. He did not see much of the field in the second half as the score at halftime was 35-0, Northwest.
Here’s @NWBearcatFB receiver Shawn Bane Jr. (@bane_goham13) on his 88-yard punt return following NW’s 63-0 win over Southern. @CoachWrightD: “He was like Babe Ruth, you know that? He called his shot.”@NWMSports pic.twitter.com/hWIuWqK9CX— Andrew Wegley (@andrew_wegley21) September 15, 2018
At halftime former coach and athletic director Mel Tjeerdsma was presented with his plaque for his induction to the College Football Hall of Fame. Coach Rich Wright missed most of the ceremony, but still wanted to express his congratulations to Tjeerdsma.
“I just said ‘you (Tjeerdsma) totally deserve this honor and I just wanna tell you I love you’,” Rich Wright said. “He really means the world to me, he’s the one that gave me the shot here at Northwest Missouri State and he is just a fantastic man.”
On the defensive side, the Bearcats improved the yardage allowed after giving up more than 300 in each of the first two games, the Lions managed just 187 yards. The defense battle missing four key players including starting linebackers senior Ben Althoff and junior Andy Hessler.
Sophomore Jackson Barnes was one of the players asked to fill those gaps on the defensive side.
“Everytime I go out there I just kind of think about how I don’t feel really stressed at all because I know I have 10 other brothers next to me,” Barnes said. “We’ve done double reps for awhile so I feel like I’ve had a lot of experience gained so I feel comfortable running out there.”
The defensive provided the first shutout of the season for Northwest, something they were able to accomplish on four occasions last season.
Half number two turned into a learning experience for Northwest as a number of second and third string players saw playing time. Sophomore Joe Brannan replaced Wright as the play caller midway through the third and led three touchdown drives.
Those three touchdowns from Caldwell, junior running back Brody McMahon and sophomore running Keir Brown, combined with junior running back Isaiah Strayhorn’s score early in the third to reach the final score of 63-0.