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Local Sports

Sept. 2, 2021Game | Football

Northwest 15, Fort Hays State 7

(Photo courtesy Ryan Milke, Northwest Athletics)

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An old school, smashmouth approach on the opening night of the MIAA football season propelled Northwest Missouri State to a 15-7 win over Fort Hays State in a slugfest Thursday night in Hays, KS.

The Bearcats (1-0) outrushed the Tigers (0-1) 240-48 and forced two turnovers en route to a second consecutive victory over their MIAA rival.

The Northwest defensive front seven set the tone the moment they stepped on the field.

After a Mike Hohensee punt was downed at the one-yard line, Fort Hays handed the ball to Keylan Chapman on their first offensive play of the night. A host of white jerseys met Chapman in the backfield, and Sam Phillips wrestled him to the ground for a safety to give the Bearcats a 2-0 lead.

Northwest wasn't able to spin the momentum into more points on the ensuing possession, but the offense found its footing early in the second quarter.

The 'Cats marched 58 yards on a drive that consisted of 13 straight rushing plays, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Al McKeller to open a 9-0 lead.

McKeller, a transfer from the University of Indianapolis, made the most of his Northwest debut. He gained 161 yards on 28 carries without a negative play, and caught three passes out of the backfield.

The Tigers gained just 54 yards in a first half dominated by the Bearcats, but got on the board in the third quarter thanks to a big play.

Quarterback Chance Fuller lofted a pass down the sideline for running back Adrian Soto. Soto snared the pass and scampered into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown reception.

The Northwest lead hung at 9-7 until late in the fourth quarter. The 'Cats drained 5:15 off the game clock before Braden Wright found Kaden Davis for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 left in the contest. A blocked PAT left the door open for Hays trailing 15-7.

Bearcat newcomer Isaiah Nimmers, a transfer from Northern Iowa, intercepted Fuller's final heave into the end zone as time expired to seal the win.

Northwest will play at home next Thursday, September 9 against Lincoln University. Pregame on KXCV 90.5 and KRNW 88.9 begins at 5pm, kickoff follows at 6pm.