The Griffons ended their losing streak in a big way Saturday afternoon at Spratt Stadium. Western ended the streak by destroying the Northeastern State University Riverhawks 45-14. The Griffons improved to 3-2 on the season, but find themselves in sixth place in the MIAA.
Missouri Western has rushed for 300 yards more than anyone else in the conference and that strong run game and defense is how they took care of NESU on Saturday.
“Overall just a good day—a really good day for us,” head coach Jerry Partridge said.
The Griffons rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Runningback Kendall Short, who entered the game with just one touchdown through four weeks, found the end zone three times Saturday.
“Kendall is a good back and he does a great job,” Partridge said.
The MIAA’s leading rusher, Josh Caldwell, rushed for 123 yards on Saturday. Caldwell leads the conference with 669 yards this season.
“I think he is the best back in our conference,” Partridge said.
The RiverHawks received the ball to start the game. But, the Western defense held them to a quick three-and-out. NESU punted and it took all of one play for the Griffons to score. Quarterback Skylar Windmiller connected with wide receiver Jesse Dickens for a 53-yard touchdown. Windmiller threw for 199 yards in the game and the one touchdown.
The Griffons went up 7-0 and that would be as close as the RiverHawks would get the rest of the game. The Northeastern defense did their best to keep the score close, but the RiverHawks’ offense did them no favors. With just over three minutes left in the first, quarterback Dimonic McKinzy hit Western cornerback Ray Winters right between the numbers. Winters returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
“We were just doing what we had been doing all week in practice,” Winters said. “We were just waiting on that route.”
It was a great bounce-back game for the defense, who started the season so well—but struggled mightily the last two weeks. The message from the defense after the game was that they wanted to have fun this week.
“We didn’t have a good week of practice last week,” said linebacker Darrian Bass. “We didn’t have fun at UCO, this week we went out there and just had fun.”
The defense held Northeastern to just 11 first downs and just 65 rushing yards. McKinzy really struggled, going 10-24 for 146 yards and three interceptions.
“Today we were the dominant team,” Partridge said.
The Griffons took the pedal off of the gas late in the third quarter after going up 38-0.
“We started pulling starter late in the third quarter,” Partridge said.
It was early in the fourth quarter when the RiverHawks got their first points of the game. Backup quarterback Blayne Armstrong connected with Antonio King for a 15-yard touchdown. Northeastern then scored again when defensive back Devon Siers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown. Coach Partridge then wanted to make sure that his team put the game out of reach.
“We put the starters back in and scored immediately,” Partridge said.
That would end the scoring in this game as running back Derek Gray and Ian McIntosh would combine to run out the remaining minutes left in the game.
The Griffons will travel to St. Charles, Missouri next week to face the Lindenwood Lions. The Lions are 1-4 on the season and are coming off of a 50-19 loss to Pittsburg State. Lindenwood’s only win of the season came in week one against the same Central Oklahoma team that beat Missouri Western two weeks ago.
“In this conference anybody can beat anybody,” Partridge said.
The first half of the season, the opponents combined record is 7-23. The second half will get much tougher, as those opponents are a combined 20-5.
“2011, that team was 2-2 and we just, kinda, started winning games,” Partridge said.
That Missouri Western team went on to finish 11-2.