NW Missouri wins snowy DII title game, topping North Alabama
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) As the the seconds ticked down on the game clock, many Northwest Missouri State players dropped to the snow-covered field in youthful jubilation. There were no Gatorade bath celebrations, but rather, dozens of snow angels appeared on the field.
The confetti then fell to the field, just as the snow had done for the entirety of the game, signifying that Northwest Missouri had officially won its second straight NCAA Division II title and record sixth overall.
''It wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination but we found a way to get it done,'' Northwest Missouri coach Adam Dorrel said. ''I thought our kids were resilient in all (facets), offense, defense, special teams, and I thought we played to win today.''
Kyle Zimmerman passed for 100 yards and Northwest Missouri plowed over North Alabama 29-3 on Saturday in snow-globe conditions.
Randy Schmidt added 96 yards rushing for Northwest Missouri State (15-0) in what was believed to be the coldest and snowiest Division II title game in its 43-year history.
At opening kickoff at Children's Mercy Park, the temperature was 13 degrees with a wind chill of minus-4. To open the third quarter, it was 12 degrees with a wind chill of minus-5.
''It's something we're not used to,'' Schmidt said of the conditions. ''It's something we've never played in before. It took a little while to get used to, but for the most part we did a good job of keeping our footing.''
The Bearcats have won 30 straight games, the longest active win streak in any NCAA division. They won their first four titles in 1998, 1999, 2009 and 2013.
''The fact that we've been able to do this three times, `13, `15 and `16, I'm not sure that one's greater than the other,'' Dorrel said. ''They've all been a little bit different.''
Northwest Missouri's Phil Jackson put it away midway through the third quarter as the heaviest wave of snow fell. On first-and-goal, Zimmerman handed Jackson the ball and shoved his way into the end zone for a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
The Bearcats weren't done, scoring a flurry of points in the fourth quarter.
Northwest Missouri came up with a safety, though to minimal effort on its part, with 8 minutes left. North Alabama (11-2) botched a punt snap at its 31. The ball spun backward toward the end zone and punter Jeb Millender soccer-kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone.
On the following drive, Northwest Missouri scored again on Zimmerman's 13-yard pass to Shane Williams.
Northwest Missouri scored again with less than a minute remaining, with Jackson bolting into the end zone from 10 yards out.
Holding onto the ball was a problem for both teams. There were multiple botched snaps, eight combined fumbles, 39 incomplete passes and two interceptions.
The go-ahead score for Northwest Missouri came in the second quarter when Schmidt tossed a 7-yard shovel pass to running back Jordan Grove.
North Alabama came within striking distance on the ensuing drive, but after the Bearcats' defense came away with three passes defensed, the Lions settled for a 21-yard field goal from Kevin Henke. They wouldn't score again.
''It's just unfortunate circumstances for us that we didn't get to utilize our strength on offense.'' North Alabama coach Bobby Wallace said. ''''I thought our defense played extremely hard, played well.''
For North Alabama, Jacob Tucker had 179 yards passing, Julius Jones added 82 yards receiving, and Ray Beasley had 29 yards rushing.
WHERE ARE THE HASH MARKS?
With the continued snow fall during the game, members of the grounds crew used snow blowers and shovels to attempt to keep the yard markers and sidelines visible. Even though they worked during time outs and play stoppages, they had a difficult time keeping up.
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