By BEN JOHNSON
Cory Meaders’ name was drawn out of the hat this week. This time he won’t face one of the nation’s top 10 defenses.
The freshman from Anna, Texas, will start at quarterback this week when Northeastern State hosts Southwest Baptist at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Doc Wadley Stadium. His last start came against third-ranked Northwest Missouri State, which ended up beating NSU 40-12.
Thor Long, NSU’s starting quarterback for six of the RiverHawks’ eight games this season, will also see playing time, NSU head coach Kenny Evans said.
“We’re going to play both quarterbacks and see how they do,” Evans said. “We’ll go with the one who is doing better and making the best decisions.”
The winner of that battle will likely garner starting duties in NSU’s final two games after this weekend. The upside to that: both will be winnable games — just like this week’s game.
NSU (0-8, 0-7 MIAA) will take on a Southwest Baptist club that is sporting one victory this season. The Bearcats — scoring 15 points a game in their last three games — are 1-7 overall and 1-6 in league play.
Southwest Baptist’s lone victory came against Missouri Southern in Week 4 in a 38-33 decision. That’s when quarterback Willie Tindal was healthy. Tindal has missed the Bearcats’ last two games — both losses — to Fort Hays State (56-14) and Nebraska Kearney (28-14).
“Their other quarterbacks aren’t as good as their starter,” Evans said of the Bearcats’ quarterback situation. “But they’ve done some good things. They’ve been better than our guys.”
The RiverHawks’ combination of Meaders, Long and Johnny Deaton are a combined 108 of 234 this season for a less-than-desirable 46.2 completion percentage in the passing game. The three — Deaton threw three passes before getting hurt in NSU’s season opener at Pittsburg State — have tossed five touchdown passes, compared to eight interceptions.
“We’ve had open receiver,” Evans said. “We just need a guy who can throw passes to those guys.”
There’s little time left, but whomever can do that could lead NSU to its first win this season.
Southwest Baptist at Northeastern State
When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
Where: Doc Wadley Stadium.
Broadcast: On the radio at KTLQ, AM-1350 and online at goriverhawksgo.com.
Nicknames: NSU RiverHawks; Southwest Baptist Bearcats.
Coaches: NSU - Kenny Evans (sixth season, 20-43); Southwest Baptist - Craig Schuler (first season, 1-7).
Records: NSU 0-8 (0-7 MIAA); Southwest Baptist 1-7 (1-6).
Rankings: Neither team is ranked in Division II.
Series record: NSU leads 2-1.
Last meeting: In 2012, NSU beat Southwest Baptist, 22-17. The RiverHawks, never trailing until the 9:39 mark of the fourth quarter on Derw Lauderdale’s 35-yard touchdown reception, went ahead for good on Joel Rockmore’s 1-yard scoring run with 1:25 left.
Last week: Central Missouri 51, NSU 7; Nebraska Kearney 28, Southwest Baptist 14.
News to know: Cory Meaders will start at quarterback for NSU. ... NSU is likely to start four linebackers — Langston Jones, Kenneth Davis, Jordan Cunningham and Eddie General — this week.
Players to watch
NSU: Kyler Harris (FS).
- The RiverHawks’ redshirt sophomore free safety has fought off nagging injuries to record double-digit tackles in his last four games. Against Central Missouri last week, Harris had a game-high 18 tackles, 13 of which were solo.
Southwest Baptist: Derwyn Lauderdale (WR).
- The Bearcats’ 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver is one of the top pass-catchers in the MIAA. He is third in receptions per game (8.0) and fourth in receiving yards per contest (108.8). Lauderdale has four 100-yard receiving games this season, and last year against NSU he had 16 catches for 125 yards and two scores.
Looking ahead: NSU will play its final road game at Lincoln, and Southwest Baptist will host Central Oklahoma.