Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western win playoff openers and could meet again in two weeks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The MIAA has two teams in the Division II football playoffs, and both Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western State University advanced to the second round. The two rivals could also face each other in a rematch in two weeks.

Northwest Missouri State easily knocked off Harding (Ark.) 35-0 on Saturday in Maryville, Mo. That's impressive, considering the Bearcats were without their best all-purpose back. Their leading rusher also missed almost the entire game.

But onetime walk-on Billy Creason stepped in with the second 100-yard rushing game of his career. The Bearcats defense also controlled the nation's fifth-best rushing attack out of the end zone.

Trevor Adams also threw for two touchdowns for Northwest, who improved to 10-2. The Bearcats are competing in the playoffs for the ninth time in as many years. That's the longest current streak in Division II. They've reached the second round a ninth straight time, the second-longest streak in D-II history.

Missouri Western survived a 57-55 triple-overtime thriller against 2010 National Champions Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday at Spratt Stadium in St. Joseph. Missouri Western quarterback Travis Partridge scored his seventh touchdown of the game in the third overtime and fourth on the ground to put the Griffons up 55-49. He then hit Reggie Jordan for a two-point conversion to make it 57-49.

Duluth had a chance to tie it with a two-point conversion, but quarterback Chase Vogler tripped under center to end the game. Missouri Western stormed the field for its first playoff game victory in school history. Partridge, the head coach's son, went 24-33 and passed for three touchdowns. Safety Marc Harrison had 12 tackles and one interception.

Missouri Western next plays No. 2 seeded Henderson State in Arkadelphia, Ark. on Saturday at noon. Northwest Missouri State hits the road next Saturday at noon to face unbeaten Minnesota State Mankato, the No. 1 seeded team in the NCAA's Super Region 3.

If Missouri Western and Northwest each win this Saturday, the two will face each other in two weeks for the regional title in St. Joseph. Missouri Western edged Northwest, 21-20, in Maryville in the regular season finale to capture its first ever outright MIAA conference title.

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