Nov. 21, 2009


Courtesy of Northwest Missouri State Athletics

Northwest Missouri State running back LaRon Council scored four touchdowns to lead the second-ranked Bearcats to a 35-10 win against 18th-ranked Abilene Christian in a second-round NCAA playoff game Saturday at Bearcat Stadium.

It's the second year in a row that Northwest has avenged a season-opening loss against Abilene Christian by beating the Wildcats in the postseason. It was also a bittersweet win for the Bearcat seniors, who improved to 27-1 at Bearcat Stadium. The lone loss was to the Wildcats last season.

Council capped the opening drive of the game with an 8-yard touchdown run. He had three rushing scores on the day and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bolles in the fourth quarter. Council carried 17 times for 87 yards.

The Wildcats answered with a 29-yard field goal by Morgan Lineberry on their first possession and had third-and-goal from the 1 on their second. Quarterback Mitchell Gale tried to extend the football across the goal line on a sneak, but Northwest linebacker Willie Horn knocked the ball loose and the Bearcats recovered.

Northwest seized the momentum from that play and never gave it back. Two series later, Bolles broke a career-long 71-yard touchdown run that gave the Bearcats a 14-3 lead, which they took into halftime.

Wildcat running back Reggie Brown fumbled on the opening carry of the third quarter and Northwest recovered. Council scored from 1-yard out three plays later and the lead was 21-3. It was 35-3 before Abilene Christian tacked on a late score.

Abilene Christian entered Saturday's game with the top run defense in the nation, but surrendered a season-high 168 yards to Northwest. It also allowed a season high for points. Northwest outgained Abilene Christian 397-288.

Both teams combined for seven turnovers. The Bearcats sacked Gale six times and recovered three Wildcat fumbles. Bolles threw a career-high three interceptions and lost another possession on a fumbled snap from center. He finished 15-of-20 for 229 yards and a touchdown in his first postseason start.

Northwest wide out Jake Soy caught seven passes for 141 yards - his seventh 100-yard effort this season. Edmund Gates caught eight passes for 102 yards for Abilene Christian.

Northwest vs. Abilene Christian Game Notes

• The series between the two teams is now tied 2-2-1
• Northwest is 26-11 in 14 NCAA playoff appearances
• Abilene Christian is 3-4  in four NCAA playoff appearances
• Northwest scored on its opening drive for the eighth time this season
• Bolles had a career-high 71-yard run for a touchdown (29 was his previous high)
• Sean Paddock tied the program record for tackles-for-loss in a career with 42
• Northwest tied a team playoff record with four rushing touchdowns in a game
• Blake Bolles moved into fourth place on the program's single-season passing list with 3,433 yards
• Northwest's four turnovers is a season high
• LaRon Council is now in third place on Northwest's all-time rushing list with 3,551 yards
• LaRon Council's 87 yards rushing is the highest by a running back against ACU this season

Abilene Christian Head Coach Chris Thomsen Postgame Quotes:

Opening Statement
I'm pretty disappointed in the way our team performed, but give a lot of credit to Northwest. They did a tremendous job in all three phases of the game.

They were a lot more efficient on offense than in game one. They established the run well and I thought they threw it down the field more in this game than they did in game one. They completed a lot of those throws. You know Jake (Soy) was a dominant player today. He did a great job pulling down catches and Blake (Bolles) made some great throws. That was the biggest difference.

On why Northwest was so successful on offense:
I just think they did a good job executing and once you get the downfield pass going like they got...those are low percentage throws, and they are hitting a pretty good percentage of them and that loosens you up pretty good and I would imagine that loosens your secondary up a bit and itprobably allowed them to throw the ball more effectively.

On Northwest's defense:
They got out on us a bit and put us in more of a situation where we had to throw the ball to get first downs. Just trying to get back in the game against Northwest when you're trailing is not a good situation. I can tell you that from experience and you want to stay balanced. You want to still be able to run your offense but when you go down three scores, you got problems there. Those guys did a great job in 1-on-1 rush. They did a great job in their twist games and their blitz packages and they did an excellent job. Give them a lot of credit.

Northwest Missouri State Head Coach Mel Tjeerdsma Postgame Quotes

Opening Statement:
I'm thrilled with the win. We really put a lot of preparation in this thing and we knew that ACU was so good on defense. If we wouldn't have turned the ball over and made so many mistakes offensively we probably could have scored a few more points.

I'm extremely proud of our defense. They answered the call every time. We got great effort from everybody. We were short-handed on defense, we were missing a couple of guys in there, and guys stepped up and made plays. Some of our d-linemen played a lot of snaps today because we couldn't have much of a rotation because of some injuries, but they held in there."

On the recovered fumble on the goal line:
Oh that was huge. That's a 14-point swing really. We didn't score on that possession but we got it back and that was when Bolles hit the long run the next possession after that so that was a huge momentum change. Even if we hadn't of scored just to stop them there gave our defense so much momentum and it really took a lot away from them.

On Northwest's defense responding after offensive turnovers:
That to me was one of the most impressive things about what our defense did. There was I think three times where we forced a turnover and we turned right around and gave it right back. Those are tough mentally because you're excited because you just forced a turnover and then you got to turn right around and go back out on the field again. That's a sign of a real mature defense, and that's what we got."

On establishing the run game against Abilene Christian:
Yeah I was really pleased I was nervous all week watching those guys. They're so much faster then anyone we play against. I thought our offensive line did a great job all day. We were a little tight at first and we made some mistakes, but this is a new season. I'm not making excuses for those kids but this is a new season, it's their first playoff game for a lot of those guys and it's a whole different atmosphere out there."