Shepherd set the tone for what became a wild DII football Saturday in Week 7. The Rams began the day, upsetting then-undefeated No. 12 West Chester 35-23. Before the night games started, three more top 25 teams fell.
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This one was all about the passing game. Shepherd excelled through the air as Harlon Hill hopeful Tyson Bagent had his sixth 300-yard game of the season. The Rams quarterback slung it for 413 yards and three touchdowns. He had 301 yards and all three touchdowns at the half.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Rams defense held West Chester to 121 yards passing. They sacked Mike Piperno six times and picked him off twice, getting a third interception off of backup quarterback Yahmir Wilkerson. West Chester was able to get close a couple of times, but the Rams seemingly had an answer every time.
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The Tigers dropped a heart-breaker on opening night. Central Missouri came all the way back and beat Fort Hays State by three. A second loss one week later dropped the Tigers from the top 25.
They have been rolling ever since.
Fort Hays State picked up its fifth win in a row, this one in a thriller over Pittsburg State. With Northwest Missouri still on the schedule and the Gorillas now with two losses in the MIAA, Fort Hays State's DII football tournament chances aren't entirely out of the question.
Quarterback Chance Fuller had another 300-yard day and put together his fourth game with four or more touchdown passes. Layne Bieberle was his favorite target reeling in 152 yards and two touchdowns. Opposite the Tigers, Lorenzo West continued his strong season for the Gorillas with 152 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Brandon Mlekus threw for 214 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 110 yards and two more scores. They needed every last second to secure the win, but the Tigers prevailed.
Defense was the key in this one. The Lopers held the Bearcats off the board in the first half, leading 14-0 after the first 30 minutes. It was the first time since 2010 that Northwest Missouri State was shutout in the first half. Despite a Bearcats' comeback in the second half, it was a late fourth-quarter sack and fumble recovery by Sal Silvio that sealed the deal.
UNK quarterback T.J. Davis had a big first quarter to put the Lopers ahead and give them a comfortable lead that they would never relinquish. Davis passed for a touchdown and rushed one in to give the Lopers the 14-0 advantage. He finished the day with 125 yards passing and 110 rushing.
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The Lopers outgained the Bearcats 353 to 259, the least total yards Northwest Missouri State had all season. They also held the No. 6 scoring offense — which averaged 46.7 points per game heading into Week 7 — to just 17 points.
According to the Bearcats record book, Northwest Missouri State had won the last seven meetings and had not lost to the Lopers since 1990. To say this is a major upset is an understatement.
The Bulldogs picked up their second loss of the season, both of which came in the past three weeks. In those two losses, they were outscored 86-10. The offense seemed to disappear again on Saturday.
Turnovers by both teams led to the first scores of the game but then the Sioux Falls' defense clamped down. The Cougars held Minnesota Duluth to 48 total yards in the first half, five of which came on the ground. Sioux Falls wound up outgaining the Bulldogs 408-133 in total yards with 300 yards coming on the ground in a dominant performance.