PORTALES, N.M. — Eastern New Mexico University head football coach, Mark Ribaudo has announced the addition of Northwest Missouri State, from the Mid-America Athletics Association, to the Greyhounds’ schedule for the 2011 season. The game against the Bearcats will kickoff at 12 p.m. MST, on October 15 and take place at Bearcat Stadium, in Maryville, Mo.
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to go to one of the best venues in Division II,” said Ribaudo. “They are one of the most successful teams in Division II and we are excited to go there to see how we stack up.”
Last season, the Bearcats reached the national semifinals, before dropping a tight 17-13 decision to eventual champion, Minnesota-Duluth. Northwest Missouri State defeated Grand Valley State, 30-23, in the 2009 NCAA Division II National Championship game, and won back-to-back titles in the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The Bearcats are the first NCAA Division II team to reach the championship game in five consecutive years (2005-2009). Northwest Missouri State has won the last five MIAA championships and has appeared in the NCAA playoffs in 13 of the last 15 seasons.
In 2010, Eastern ranked 16th in the nation in passing offense, 19th in total offense and 26th in scoring offense. The matchups in the game should be intriguing, as the Bearcats faced conference rival Central Missouri, which had the fourth-ranked scoring offense , fourth –ranked passing offense and sixth-ranked scoring offense last year.
Quarterback Wesley Wood (Jr., Muleshoe, Texas/Muleshoe HS) returns for the Hounds after earning First Team All-Lone Star Conference North Division honors and being selected as the LSC North Co-Offensive Back of the Year. He passed for 3,312 yards and 30 touchdowns, throwing for at least three touchdowns on five occasions. Wood ranked ninth in the nation in total offense, averaging 337.18 yards per game.
The game will mark the fifth on Eastern’s upcoming schedule against a team that qualified for the 2010 postseason. Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Texas A&M and Abilene Christian reached the NCAA Division II playoffs, while Midwestern State was invited to the Lower Inc. Kanza Bowl.