The ninth D2 football playoffs semifinal win in program history for BR-1 Northwest Missouri turned into a nail-biter until late in the game, but a couple of late touchdowns gave the Bearcats a 38-23 win over BR-2 West Georgia in front of 5,522 fans in Maryville, Mo.
Cameron Wilcox capped off the game’s opening drive with a 3 yard touchdown run to give Northwest Missouri a 7-0 lead. Following a three-and-out by the Bearcats defense, Simon Mathiesen converted a 24 yard field goal with 2:19 left in the opening quarter to extend the lead to 10-0.
West Georgia couldn’t get any momentum going in the first quarter, running just nine plays for a net of 14 yards to Northwest Missouri’s 29 plays and 173 yards. The Bearcats compounded Wolves woes in the final minute of the first quarter after Marcus Jones recovered a Devontae Jackson fumble at the West Georgia 29.
Northwest capitalized six plays later when Brady Bolles threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to T.J. Schieber early in the second quarter to make it 17-0.
The Wolves managed a pair of Hunter Heck field goals in the second quarter to cut the Northwest lead to 17-6 before Bolles struck again with a 7 yard run to give the Bearcats a 24-6 halftime lead, set up in part by a mishandled snap on a West Georgia punt.
West Georgia battled back in the second half, however.
On the Wolves opening drive of the third quarter, Dallas Dickey threw a 58 yard pass to Telvin Brown to cut the Northwest lead to 24-13. The teams would trade punts after successive three-and-outs before Dickey struck again.
Dickey capped off a five play, 56 yard drive with a 40 yard touchdown strike to Qa Walker with eight minutes left in the third quarter to make it a 24-20 game.
Northwest tried to answer back with a 13 play drive stretching 66 yards and 5:03. The Wolves defense, however, responded when Zed Brown and Wayne Williams stuffed Jordan Grove for a one yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the West Georgia 1 with under three minutes left in the third quarter.
West Georgia went on an 11 play drive spanning into the fourth quarter, driving as close as the Northwest 5 yard line. Back-to-back tackles for loss by the Bearcats defense forced the Wolves to settle for a 33 yard Heck field goal, cutting the lead to 24-23 with 10:37 left.
The Wolves had a chance to take the lead after a defensive stop. Heck, who had hit three field goals earlier in the game, missed from 53 yards out with 4:39 left.
Bolles took advantage of the gift from West Georgia’s special teams just 10 seconds later, firing a 64 yard strike to George Sehl on the very next play to extend Northwest’s lead to 31-23.
After Dickey opened the ensuing West Georgia drive with a 10 yard run, Bryce Enyard effectively slammed the door shut on the Wolves, returning a Dickey interception 61 yards for a touchdown with 3:39 left.
West Georgia’s last chance drive stalled out at their own 40 yard line after a Brandon Yost second down sack and consecutive incompletions by Dickey.
Bolles finished with 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns 19-of-33 passing while rushing for 52 yards and a touchdown to lead Northwest; Phil Jackson ran for 60 yards on 16 carries.
Dickey closed out his collegiate career with 268 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-34 passing to lead West Georgia.