By BEN JOHNSON
Final conference standings
Team Conf. Ovr
W-L W-L PF PA
NW Mo. St. 10-0 11-0 505 176
Emporia St. 9-1 9-1 433 249
Pittsburg St. 7-2 9-2 468 195
Washburn 7-3 8-3 450 235
Mo. Western 7-3 8-3 423 278
Mo. Southern 5-3 7-3 345 233
Central Mo. 5-4 6-4 376 214
Fort Hays St. 4-5 6-5 384 363
Neb. Kearney 3-6 3-8 211 387
Lindenwood 2-6 3-6 199 330
Lincoln 2-8 2-8 322 465
Central Okla. 2-8 2-8 300 500
Northeastern St. 2-8 2-9 199 418
SW Baptist 1-9 1-10 237 478
Northeastern State 45, Central Oklahoma 38
Lincoln 51, Southwest Baptist 28
Emporia State 34, Washburn 23
Missouri Southern 35, Pittsburg State 21
Fort Hays State 56, Nebraska Kearney 17
Northwest Missouri State 51, Missouri Western 21
NCAA playoffs - first round
Emporia State at Minnesota Duluth, 1 p.m.
NCAA playoffs - second round
Emporia State-Minnesota Duluth winner at Northwest Missouri State, TBA
Pittsburg State vs. Southwest Minnesota State, noon (Mineral Water Bowl)
Week 11 recaps
- Northeastern State 45, Central Oklahoma 38: NSU’s Terrance Dixon rushed for 140 yards and one touchdown, quarterback Thor Long ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns while tossing two touchdown passes as the RiverHawks won the battle for the President’s Cup for the fourth straight season. UCO — led by Josh Birmingham’s 114 yards and two touchdowns on the ground — was done in by five interceptions by quarterback T.J. Eckert.
- Lincoln 51, Southwest Baptist 28: The Bearcats led 28-24 with 2:17 left in the third quarter, but Lincoln tallied the final 27 points of the game to prevail. Jacob Morris ran for 147 yards and four touchdowns for Lincoln, and running back Morris Henderson added 137 yards and one touchdown.
- Emporia State 34, Washburn 23: The Hornets built up a 24-6 lead by halftime and held off Washburn in the second half. Emporia State quarterback Brent Wilson threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Hornet wide receiver Ray Ray Davis had 10 catches for 158 yards and two scores, while his teammate, Kavaski Ervin had seven grabs for 129 yards and a touchdown.
- Missouri Southern 35, Pittsburg State 21: The Lions’ slowed Pittsburg State’s high-powered offense to the tune of only 229 total yards. Missouri Southern, on the other hand, racked up 372 rushing yards, including 119 yards and two touchdowns by quarterback Jay McDowell. Leading 21-14 late in the third quarter, Missouri Southern’s Jocqui Davis logged his only carry of the game — a 52-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a two-touchdown lead. McDowell added a 1-yard scoring run with 2:22 left in the game to put a dagger in Pittsburg State’s playoff hopes.
- Fort Hays State 56, Nebraska Kearney 17: The Lopers were within 21-17 of Fort Hays State with 5:30 left in the first half. The Tigers, though, scored on Treveon Albert’s 3-yard run before halftime, and the Tigers logged the final 35 points in the game. For Hays State registered 711 yards on offense, including 210 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries by running back Andre Smith. Albert engineered a near-flawless passing game with 357 yards and five touchdowns while completing 20 of 27 passes for the Tigers.
- Northwest Missouri State 51, Missouri Western 21: The Bearcats polished off a perfect season by limiting Missouri Western to 293 yards on offense. Northwest Missouri State went from leading 14-7 with 7:09 left in the second quarter to owning a 38-7 advantage with 3:44 left in the third period. Robert Burton ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns for the Bearcats, while quarterback Trevor Adams passed for two scores.
Players of the week
- Offense - Ray Ray Davis (Emporia State): The 6-foot-1 senior from Indian Trail, N.C., hauled in 10 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Davis wrapped up the regular season with 80 receptions for 1,026 yards and 15 touchdowns.
- Defense - DJ Gnader (Northwest Missouri State): The junior linebacker had a game-high 12 tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery in the Bearcats’ win over Missouri Western.
- Special teams - Simon Mathiesen (Northwest Missouri State): The freshman kicker from Denmark was nine-for-nine when swinging his leg to make kicks against Missouri Western. He hit three field goals and connected on all six of his point-after attempts.
Around the league
- Tackling machine: Northeastern State linebacker Langston Jones finished the season tied for fourth in the nation in tackles per game (12.8). That average was also two tackles per game better than Nebraska Kearney’s Tyke Kozeal.
- Do it all: Central Oklahoma’s Marquez Clark finished the year second in the nation in all-purpose yards. He averaged 224.9 per game, which was slightly off the pace set by West Chester’s Rondell White (231.2).
- Playoff bound: The MIAA ended up with two teams in the national playoffs. Northwest Missouri ended up with the top spot in Region Three, while Emporia cashed in on its 9-1 season with the fifth seed. Pittsburg State was No. 5 in the region before a season-crushing loss to Missouri Southern.
1. Northwest Missouri State: The Bearcats’ defense is so good that it makes the offense look high-powered. The biggest challenge for this team could be the regional finals against Minnesota-Mankato. The winner of that could coast into the title game.
2. Emporia State: Tip of the cap to head coach Garin Higgins for leading a Hornets club that was picked seventh in the league to the national playoffs. Brent Wilson is the real deal at quarterback and he still has plenty of years left on campus.
3. Pittsburg State: How does a team ruin its entire season in 60 minutes? It completes only one pass to the most dynamic playmaker in the conference, Mr. John Brown, and suffers a home loss to a one-dimensional team, which is also its cross-state rival.
4. Missouri Western: Disappointing season by Griffon standards. The emergence of running back Raphael Spencer was a blessing, but it couldn’t outweigh the deficiency at the quarterback position.
5. Missouri Southern: Have to give the Lions a huge amount of credit for trashing Pittsburg State’s playoff dreams. It was the perfect way to pay homage to fallen coach Derek Moore.
6. Washburn: Once the grind became too tough, the Ichabods couldn’t hang with the league’s top honchos. Tore’ Hurst and Bryce Atagi are solid but not good enough to carry the team on their backs.
7. Central Missouri: Hayden Hawk is back next year at quarterback. That’s good news.
8. Fort Hays State: Treveon Albert and the Tigers could be a team to keep an eye on next season.
9. Nebraska Kearney: Tyke Kozeal will be a nice centerpiece for the defense for the next couple of years. Now the Lopers just need an offense to go around offensive lineman Cole Manhart.
10. Lincoln: The Blue Tigers get Jacob Morris back at quarterback in 2014, but running back Morris Henderson will no longer be around for the transition to the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
11. Lindenwood: The Lions were gift-wrapped an easier schedule — by MIAA standards — this season, yet, there were only three wins to show for it.
12. Northeastern State: Whoever takes over as head coach will have a lot of holes to fill prior to the 2014 season.
13. Central Oklahoma: Losing running back Josh Birmingham will hurt, but having Marquez Clark back for another year can’t hurt.
14. Southwest Baptist: Perhaps a move to the GLVC will suit the Bearcats just fine.
They said it
“I put a lot of hard work in here. I don’t regret anything. But it’s tough seeing five years of dreams wash away. It’s tough.” — Pittsburg State senior linebacker Nate Dreiling said following the loss to Missouri Southern.
Game of the week
Emporia State at Minnesota Duluth
This is an easy one, considering Emporia State is the only MIAA team playing this weekend. The Hornets’ welcome-back present to the playoffs for the first time since 2003 is a trip to Duluth, Minn., where the forecast calls for temperatures in the teens, a chance of snow and 20 mph winds. With Emporia State quarterback Brent Wilson out with a broken collarbone, don’t expect big numbers in the passing game for Emporia State, instead relying on running backs Antonio Brown and Dozie Iwuagwa to try establish a solid ground game. Could be tough, though, against a Duluth team that has allowed more than seven points one time at home this season — and even then it was 21 against second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato. Prediction: Minnesota Duluth 20, Emporia State 10.