Tahlequah Daily Press

NSU Sports

October 8, 2012

Griffons soar past Northeastern State

Northeastern State did what Missouri Western's five previous opponents couldn't do: score points in bunches.

The RiverHawks also racked more yards on offense than the Griffons' first five challengers.

Yet, the RiverHawks couldn't avoid doing what they did the first five weeks of the season: lose.

The nation's second-leading rusher, Michael Hill, racked up 195 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries, as the Griffons rolled to a 45-31 triumph on a damp Gable Field on Saturday afternoon.

"We probably should have put up 50 (points), if you want to know the truth," NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. "We saw things all week that we could take advantage of, and if we don't make crucial mistakes at key times, we do score 50 points."

In front of an early-departing crowd of 2,168 at Doc Wadley Stadium, Missouri Western improved to 6-0 for the first time under current head coach Jerry Partridge.

“It feels good," Partridge said of the six straight wins to start the season. “We haven’t had the front-loaded schedule that we always seem like we have.”

The Griffons, who also moved to 5-0 in MIAA play, accounted for the only score in the fourth quarter, when Taylor Anderson booted home a 35-yard field goal with 14:47 to play.

From there, Missouri Western's defense went to work. Led by Ben Pister, the Griffons limited NSU (0-6, 0-6) to only 76 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.

Pister, in fact, had two pass break-ups during NSU's possession midway through the fourth quarter, when the RiverHawks started a drive on their own 43 and aiming to cut into the 14-point deficit.

For the second straight week, special teams squelched momentum for the RiverHawks. With NSU threatening to cut into Missouri Western's 11-point halftime edge, Drew Patton missed a 31-yard field wide right.

Missouri Western would take advantage seven plays later when Travis Partridge connected with Tyron Crockom on a 19-yard touchdown pass.

The two clubs would trade scoring drives later in the third quarter. Joel Rockmore scooted into the end zone a 5-yard run for NSU, and Missouri Western's Reggie Jordan caught his second touchdown pass of the day moments later to increase the Griffons' lead to 42-24.

The RiverHawks never could get closer than 11 points after the first quarter.

“We always had it at arm’s length,” Partridge said. “It was always two arms length; it was never in an arm’s length. That’s what we did a good job of.”

Rockmore would strike back with another scoring run, a shifty, tackle-breaking, 29-yard run to get the RiverHawks within 11 (42-31) late in the third quarter.

Rockmore finished the game with 131 rushing yards on 20 carries. However, he did lose NSU’s only fumble of the game on the RiverHawks’ third possession of the first quarter.

“I just had to put (the fumble) in the past," said Rockmore, who finished the game with 203 all-purpose yards and matched a career-high in touchdowns. "I knew that was the first quarter, and we still had three more quarters to go.”

Northeastern State also finished with 264 yards passing with Johnny Deaton and Dallas McCutcheon combining to complete 19 of 35 passes.

“They executed the best I’ve seen them execute on offense all year long in the passing game,” Partridge said of NSU. “They’ve been dropping passes and they’ve been inaccurate...but I thought they executed well.”

Northeastern State got to within 28-17 at halftime when Dallas McCutcheon threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a 26-yard strike to Jahmai Coleman.

Coleman's touchdown was in response to Partridge's 2-yard scoring pass to Jordan.

The two clubs opened the second quarter by trading touchdowns. Missouri Western's Tarrell Downing caught a 14-yard strike from Partridge, and Rockmore scored on a 20-yard run at the 11:16 mark, three minutes after the Griffons' score.

NSU opened the game handing Missouri Western something it hasn't faced all year: a deficit. The RiverHawks' Drew Patton drilled a 29-yard field goal to put NSU up 3-0 a little less than six minutes into the contest.

The Griffons responded, though, with two scoring runs. Hill busted loose for a 72-yard run up the left sidelines, before Partridge scored on a 6-yard run up the middle three minutes later.

“He took off and left everybody,” Partridge said of Hill, who came up with 115 yards rushing by halftime. “He is a pro prospect, and I’ve been shoving that down every NFL scout’s throat. They don’t seem like they want to listen very good. He could be on the (Kansas City) Chiefs right now, honestly.”

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