KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Brady Bolles threw for 233 yards and a touchdown to lead Northwest Missouri State to its fifth NCAA Division II title Saturday, 34-7 over Shepherd at Sporting Park.
Bolles completed 20 of 27 passes. The Bearcats (15-0) used two turnovers and a big play to open a 24-0 first-half lead, then coasted in the second half against overmatched Shepherd (13-1).
Defensive end Collin Bevins had four sacks to break the school record for sacks in a season with 15 1/2. The Bearcats had 10 sacks in the game.
Northwest Missouri State also won titles in 1998, 1999, 2009 and 2013.
A championship-game record of 16,181 watched the game at the home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City. The crowd was slanted heavily toward Northwest Missouri, 90 miles away in Maryville.
Northwest Missouri, which came into the game with the best scoring defense in Division II by more than three points per game, held Shepherd to 97 yards of total offense.
It didn’t take long for Northwest Missouri to grab the lead. The Bearcats kicked off, but on the first play from scrimmage, Jeff Ziemba bobbled a shotgun snap, and it was recovered by defensive end Cass Weitl on the 5. Two plays later, ordan Grove ran it in from the 1. The touchdown, at the 14:13 mark, was the quickest non-kick-return score in the championship game since 1974.
The teams traded several opportunities before Northwest Missouri got a 74-yard pass from Bolles to Grove to set up a first-and-goal from the 6. On third down, Bolles hit Shane Williams with a 1-yard pass for a 14-0 lead. A 30-yard field goal by Simon Mathiesen gave the Bearcats a 17-0 lead with 38 seconds left in the half.
The Bearcats iced it with cornerback Bryce Enyard’s 59-yard interception return for a touchdown on Shepherd’s next play from scrimmage.
Shepherd got on the board with 9:49 left in the third after recovering a fumbled punt on the Bearcats 32. Two plays later, Ziemba hit receiver Billy Brown with a 21-yard touchdown pass.