JACK LEACH | Reporter
An entertaining homecoming week full of parades, lip sync and banner competitions came to a standstill on Saturday after Lindenwood’s 38-17 loss to No. 11 Northwest Missouri State.
To begin the contest, the Bearcats quickly showed why they are the MIAA frontrunners. Two minutes into their first drive, NWMSU converted a 37-yard field goal after wide receiver Shawn Bane Jr.’s 36-yard catch-and-run.
Next drive, after first downs by running back Nash Sutherlin and tight end Erik Henneman, the Lindenwood offense looked to be in great position to put a score on the board. However, the Bearcats displayed why their scoring defense is No. 1 in the nation (10.6 points/game), and picked off quarterback Cade Brister to regain possession.
About four minutes later, the Bearcats moved all the way down the field to take a 10-0 lead. Receptions of 16 and 25 yards for wide receiver Alec Thomas and tight end Marqus Andrews set up the Josh Caldwell rushing touchdown for NWMSU’s second score of the game.
After three straight punts, the Lions finally managed to put a scoring-drive together. It all began with two rushes by running back Cameron Sanders of 6 and 14, a Henneman reception of 14, and then was capped off with a Sutherlin 27-yard rushing touchdown. With seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Lions cut the Bearcats’ lead to three.
NWMSU quickly responded as Bane Jr. took the following kickoff to the Lindenwood 35-yard line. Soon after, the Bearcat offense managed to get to the one-yard line, where they would eventually take four plays to put the ball into end zone. Bearcat running back Isaiah Strayhorn punched it in on fourth & goal to take a 17-7 lead.
Bearcats linebacker Jackson Barnes intercepted Brister the following drive; this interception put NWMSU on the Lindenwood 12-yard line with two minutes remaining. Three plays later, quarterback Braden Wright took it up the gut for a 3-yard touchdown scamper to close out the half up 24-7.
NWMSU received the kickoff to open up the third quarter. Play after play, the Bearcats continued to hit passes of 10+ yards, the first to Bane Jr. for 18 yards, then Andrews for 20. Strayhorn would end up scoring his second touchdown of the game two minutes fresh into the second half.
At the moment, a comeback for the Lions was somewhat in sight. The following Lions drive, kicker Brett Foley converted a 26-yard field goal to make it a three-score lead at 31-10. Wide receiver Najee Jackson was the highlight of the drive after first down catches of 9 and 31 yards.
The Lions’ defense finally began to get to the Bearcats’ quarterback. The freshman Braden Wright was first sacked by defensive tackle Antonio Davis, and then intercepted by linebacker Drew Seers with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The drive after Seers’ interception, Lindenwood would get their last score of the game to make it 31-17. The touchdown happened after Brister completed two throws: one to Sutherlin running a wheel route on the sideline for 19 yards, and the second to wide receiver Paul Silvio who managed to catch the 26-yard score in the back of the end zone with the Bearcat defensive back draped all over him.
The final score of the game went to NWMSU. The Bearcat offense was given beautiful field position after wide receiver LaTroy Harper returned the kickoff to the Lindenwood 16-yard line. Five plays later, Andrews caught a wide-open touchdown from the one-yard line with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Next Saturday, the Lions look to avenge last year’s three-point loss and travel to Lewis Field Stadium for their 2 p.m. matchup against Fort Hays State.