Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri took their first steps toward a potential rematch in the NCAA Division II football playoffs Saturday with opening-round victories.
The Griffons, who won the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association title with a win over the Bearcats on the final day of the regular season, beat Minnesota-Duluth 57-55 in a three-overtime thriller at St. Joseph. The Bearcats had a much easier time in Maryville, shutting out Harding (Ark.) 35-0.
Western and Duluth scored on every possession of overtime, but a botched extra-point try gave the Griffons their first playoff win in school history.
Griffons quarterback Travis Partridge had seven touchdowns, throwing for a career-high 319 yards and three scores and rushing for four more. Western’s Michael Hill rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown in 24 carries.
Northwest forced three Harding turnovers and was led by quarterback Trevor Adams, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Bill Creason, playing in place of the injured Jordan Simmons, rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown, and Tyler Shaw caught five passes for 119 yards and a score for the Bearcats.
If Northwest and Western win their second-round games, they would face each other for the regional title in St. Joseph in two weeks. Western, the third seed in the region, travels to second-seeded Henderson State (Ark.), and Northwest, the No. 4 seed, plays at top-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato on Nov. 24.