No. 3 Western (10-1) is set to take on No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth (10-1) this Saturday in the second ever home playoff game.
Western hopes to claim their first home playoff victory in the program history this Saturday as they take on the Bulldogs. Last season, the Griffons were handed a heartbreaking loss in the first home playoff game to rival Northwest in the first round of the playoffs. This year they are coming off of an emotional win at Northwest.
As a well-known rushing team, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 10 in Division II with just under 3,000 rushing yards this season and collect almost 270 yards rushed per game. Their quarterback just happens to be the core of their rushing game. This past weekend, Chase Vogler rushed for 224 yards on 22 carries, including a 64-yard scoring run, and five touchdowns. The senior quarterback has lost just three games on the road in his college career.
While the Griffons rushing defense isn’t highly ranked, they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Western only allows 140 total rushing yards per game on an average of 4 yards per carry, ranking them No. 4 in the MIAA at defending the run. They have great defensive stoppers in Austin Baska, David Bass, and Ben Pister who combine for 113 total tackles and 21 sacks for 129 yards lost. Bass also has two interceptions for 63 yards. Together, the three will give the Minnesota-Deluth runners plenty to worry about.
Western has major promise in First Team all-MIAA running back Michael Hill. In his first three seasons at Western, he’s rushed for over 2,800 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. During just the fourth game of the season, Hill broke the record for most-career yards and most-career carries. This season he averages 7.4 yards per carry and 164.5 yards per game. With his contributions this season combined with Dominic Thomas, Raphael Spencer and Travis Partridge, he’s helped place Missouri Western at the no. 1 spot in rushing offense in the MIAA. Hill was named Offensive Player the Year by the conference.
In Division II, the team is ranked No. 7 in rushing offense, three spots ahead of run heavy Minnesota-Deluth, averaging 287 rushing yards per game.
The Griffons offense has been bolstered by the improvement of quarterback Travis Partridge from a season ago. Partridge was named first team all-MIAA after passing for 2023 yards and and 25 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.
Minnesota-Duluth is ranked No. 13 in rushing defense, allowing just under 100 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. In their one loss on the season, they gave up 176 rushing yards to St. Cloud State. That was the highest amount they allowed in opponent’s rushing yards this season.
The Griffons will play the Bulldogs this Saturday, Nov. 17 in Spratt Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.