Northwest Missouri State jumped out early and held Lenoir-Rhyne at an arm's length for the rest of the game en route to its fourth Division II national title with a 43-28 victory.
After taking a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, Lenoir-Rhyne was never able to get the deficit into the single digits the rest of the game. And twice in the fourth quarter, with the lead at 15 points, Northwest and coach Adam Dorrel elected to keep throwing the football to seal the game. One long pass set up a short touchdown, and another provided the final score when Trevor Adams hit Jason Jozaites for a 17-yard touchdown.
It's Dorrel's first title at his alma mater. He took over the program in 2011 after coach Mel Tjeerdsma, who led Northwest Missouri State to its previous three titles, retired and is now the school's athletic director. Scott Bostwick was originally named Tjeerdsma's successor but he passed away the summer before the season began and Dorrel was named coach.
Since the Bearcats went 0-11 in Tjeerdsma's first season in 1994, Northwest has made the playoffs every season but two and has appeared in the championship game in Florence, Al. eight times. If that trend continues, Northwest will have a distinct homefield advantage in its next appearance. The next four Division II Championships will be held at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., just less than a two-hour drive from Northwest's campus in Maryville, Mo.
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