Second-ranked Northwest Missouri State University capitalized on short field opportunities and rallied from a touchdown deficit at halftime to claim a 24-15 victory over seventh-ranked Pittsburg State University in The Fall Classic at Arrowhead XII Saturday (Oct. 19).
The win, in front of 17,679 fans at Arrowhead Stadium, helped the Bearcats remain unbeaten and improve to 7-0 overall and 6-0 in MIAA play. The Gorillas dropped to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the MIAA.
Brady Bolles, playing in place of injured starting quarterback Trevor Adams, tossed a touchdown pass and ran for two scores to lead the Bearcats.
Bolles 10-yard scoring run with 3:25 to play in the third quarter gave the Bearcats the lead, at 22-15. The drive was set up by a 14-yard Pitt State punt after Northwest forced the Gorillas into a 3-and-out.
Pitt State, which entered the game +9 in turnover margin, committed four turnovers, had a punt blocked and gave up two safeties in the contest.
The Bearcats registered five quarterback sacks and limited the Gorillas to 27 net rushing yards in the contest. Eric Reimer and Matt Longacre combined to sack Pitt State quarterback Tony Abenoja for the game-clinching safety with 1:46 to play in the contest.
The Gorillas got the ball back with 1:26 to go after using three timeouts and holding the Bearcats on downs at the PSU 26. Two plays later Abenoja was sacked by Reimer and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Northwest's Brandon Yost to seal the win.
Abenoja completed 12 of 26 passes for 196 yards in the contest. He tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Cushon that staked the Gorillas to an early 7-0 lead at the 10:51 mark of the first quarter.
Cushon finished the game with four catches for a game-high 129 yards.
The Bearcats registered a safety to trim the margin to 7-2 and Bolles put Northwest in front, 8-7, with a six-yard touchdown pass to Reuben Thomas, after the Bearcats intercepted a pass and returned it to the Pitt State 9.
The Gorillas responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive culiminated by Jeff Seybold, Jr.'s one-yard run with two seconds remaining in the first half. Abenoja added a 2-point coversion pass to Conner Combes for a 15-8 halftime advantage.
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