Colin McDonough, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
MARYVILLE – The No. 14-ranked Northwest Missouri State University football team produced a Homecoming victory over the Lincoln Blue Tigers at Bearcat Stadium, 56-9.
Northwest scored 28 of its 56 points in the second quarter to take a commanding lead over the Tigers, before finishing up strong in the fourth quarter with a bounce-back win.
As the game began, the Bearcats were slow to start as the Tigers were trying to force mistakes from the two-quarterback duo. They did just that as redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Hohensee gifted the first points of the game. On a third and 15, Hohensee was under pressure and threw directly into the hands of the defense. Vontavious Thacker caught the ball and returned it untouched 52 yards for a touchdown with 4:05 left on the first quarter clock.
Sophomore quarterback Braden Wright, the Don Black Award recipient, began his five-touchdown day with a pass to senior running back Justin Rankin. After catching the pass, Rankin sprinted down the sideline and scored from 21 yards out. That evened the score at 7-7 with 1:29 on the clock.
The moment that clock hit 0:00 to end the first quarter, everything went out the window, especially Lincoln’s hopes of winning. Wright got it started with the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter. Wright faked the handoff to Rankin and sprinted in the open gap and was met with open field until he ran out of gas and was caught after a 66-yard run. Three plays later, the Bearcats ran the same play, but instead of faking the handoff, Rankin took it in for the score at 9:43.
With the next two touchdowns, the Bearcats spread the wealth a little more as both Thomas Raymond and Gus Gomez scored their first career touchdowns in Northwest uniforms.
Hohensee started it all as he hit Raymond on end around to leave him room to score an easy touchdown from 25 yards out with 5:52 on the clock. Then Wright saw Gomez in open space and found him for a jog-in score on the left side to make the score 28-7 with 2:50 left on the clock.
The Bearcats had one more score left in them before the half as Wright connected with Imoni Donadelle for a 56-yard touchdown pass. It marks the sixth straight week that Donadelle has scored a touchdown.
The spurt of offense gave Northwest a commanding 35-7 lead at halftime, as the halftime show welcomed back former Bearcat glory. Northwest honored its 2019 M-Club Hall of Fame and both with the 1999 and 2009 national championship football squads.
Production for the Bearcats slowed a little after halftime but remained constant. However, it didn’t start that way as Northwest stopped the Tigers at the one-yard line on fourth down. From the one-yard line, the Bearcats took possession but lost it quickly after Rankin was tackled for a loss and a safety to make it 35-9 with 11:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Wright continued his passing ways with a 34-yard touchdown strike to LaTroy Harper with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter. Harper caught the pass and made a couple of spin moves to lose the defenders and make his way into the end zone.
Wright made one more mark on the day before he exited as he scored on a three-yard rush to make the score 48-9 with 9:49 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
In a game of first touchdowns, defensive back turned fourth-string quarterback Giavonni Guido showcased his ability to sprint with the best of them. As the clock hit 4:27, Guido found some open space and brushed past Lincoln defenders to the end zone from 30 yards out to make it 56-9.
Northwest will be home again next Saturday against Northeastern State. Kick is set for 1:30 p.m. at Bearcat Stadium with the RiverHawks.
NOTES: Northwest won its fifth straight Homecoming game … it was Northwest’s 23rd Homecoming victory in its last 25 years … Branden Wright was responsible for five touchdowns … Wright went 10-of-18 passing for 227 yards and four scores … Wright also led the rushing attack with six carries for 80 yards and a touchdown … Imoni Donadelle led the Northwest receivers with 93 yards … LaTroy Harper had a team-high three receptions … Justin Rankin rushed nine times for 19 yards and a score, while catching one pass for 21 yards that went for a touchdown … Spencer Phillips notched a team-high seven tackles … Northwest racked up a season-high 13 tackles for loss … Drew Dostal produced the lone defensive turnover on the day with a strip and recovery.