Players of the week
- Offense - Raphael Spencer (Missouri Western): The sophomore tailback from Kansas City, Mo., logged 193 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries to propel the Griffons past Washburn.
- Defense - Matt Longacre (Northwest Missouri State): The junior defensive end from Omaha, Neb., had six tackles, two and half sacks and four and a half tackles for loss in the Bearcats’ win over Emporia State.
- Special teams - LaVance Taylor (Central Missouri): A 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Taylor was the final score of the game in the Mules’ come-from-behind win over Fort Hays State. Taylor, a junior from Raytown, Mo., had 176 return yards and 296 all-purpose yards.
Around the league
- Region reign: Of the six playoff spots up for grabs in Region Three, the MIAA has three in the top six. Northwest Missouri State is No. 1 and would earn a first-round bye with a win over Missouri Western this week. Pittsburg State and Emporia State are fifth and sixth, respectively. Both need to win this week to solidify their places in the Division II national playoffs.
- Nate the Great: Pittsburg State linebacker Nate Dreiling collected 13 tackles to become the Gorillas’ all-time tackle leader in school history with 475 tackles in 46 games. Dreiling is also second on the all-time MIAA list now, trailing Truman’s Marti Rave by 14 tackles.
- Top 25 dominance: The MIAA has five teams in the nation’s top 25 heading into the final week of the regular season. Northwest Missouri State is No. 2 and Pittsburg State is also in the top 10 at No. 6. Emporia State (16th), Missouri Western (19th) and Washburn (23rd) also hold spots in the top 25.
1. Northwest Missouri State: No one has been able to solve the Bearcats’ menacing defense to this point. NWMSU is easily a national title contender as the playoffs near.
2. Pittsburg State: Barring a disastrous loss at home to Missouri Southern, the Gorillas could pose some problems for opponents in the playoffs, especially now that Seybold and Brown are a dynamic rushing-and-receiving combination.
3. Emporia State: A humbling loss to Northwest Missouri State can do one of two things: demoralize the Hornets’ morale or embolden Emporia State with one victory standing between it and the D-II playoffs.
4. Missouri Western: The win over Washburn keeps postseason possibilities alive.
5. Washburn: The Ichabods, now with two losses, have been reduced to the role of spoiler against Emporia State. The ‘Bods now need some help to see any kind of postseason action.
6. Missouri Southern: What better way to pay tribute to fallen coach Derek Moore — the Lions’ offensive line coach — than to rush for 550-plus yards last week?
7. Central Missouri: The Mules — despite several close losses to start the year — have to feel good about the way they closed out the season.
8. Fort Hays State: The way this year started for the Tigers, a win over Nebraska Kearney and an above-.500 record would feel pretty good heading into the offseason.
9. Nebraska Kearney: Lopers will have a lot of ground to make up in the offseason.
10. Central Oklahoma: The Bronchos can’t seem to stop anyone on defense, but hey, at least their offense seems to be operating at maximum efficiency right now.
11. Lindenwood: A cushy schedule yielded only three wins — only two in conference — for the Lions, who had such high expectations heading into the season.
12. Lincoln: The Blue Tigers will certainly miss Morris Henderson next season.
13. Northeastern State: The RiverHawks were outscored 237-80 on the road this season. Ouch.
14. Southwest Baptist: Willie Tindal seems to be the motor for the Bearcats, and with him out, Southwest Baptist appears to be going nowhere.