From NSU Sports Info.
Cedrique Flemming, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The Northeastern State football team defeated Lindenwood, 17-14, in the last game of the season Saturday afternoon at Hunter Stadium.
The RiverHawks were able to end the season at 3-8 overall. This was the most victories in a season since 2012. They also leapfrogged the Lions (3-8, 3-8 MIAA) in the final conference standings to land in ninth place a year removed from a winless campaign.
Senior running back Joel Rockmore ended his career with a bang, as he tallied 116 yards rushing on 23 carries and 25 yards receiving on three catches. Senior quarterback Thor Long had career highs in completions (19), passing yards (260) and passing TD’s (2), while also running for 88 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Zac King posted a career-high 104 yards receiving on four catches.
Both teams drove into enemy territory on their opening possessions, but both were ultimately forced to punt.
The RiverHawks were the first to strike, as they marched 92 yards on six plays during their second possession to snag a 7-0 lead. The longest drive of the season for NSU was capped by a 17-yard TD pass from Long to junior wide receiver Jamari Pope.
Lindenwood answered on its next drive, when Mason Bendigo found Tre’ Roby for 27 yards late in the first quarter.
The two teams were unable to add to the score until the final play of the first half, when junior kicker Eddie Garcia‘s 34-yard field goal gave the visitors a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Lions took a 14-10 lead late in the third quarter when Connor Harris scampered for a 23-yard score. The starting middle linebacker lined up in the wildcat formation to start the second half and gave NSU fits for the second-straight year. Last season he posted 188 yards rushing and four TD’s on just 11 carries, while also registering a game-high 14 tackles.
He tallied 53 yards on his first three carries Saturday, but this time Northeastern State was able to shut him down. In his final four rushing attempts, he lost a fumble and had -2 yards.
The game-winning score for the RiverHawks came with 4:52 left on the clock. Long sailed a pass up the middle to sophomore tight end Decoryan Holman, and he leapt over the defenders and made the catch to win the game for NSU.
Lindenwood was able to drive into RiverHawks territory, but Brandon White missed a 35-yard field goal and NSU ran out the clock to secure the victory.
NSU outgained LWU 441-298, and the visitors dominated time of possession 34:18-25:42.
||Jamari Pope 17 pass from Thor Long (Eddie Garcia kick)
||Tre’ Roby 27 pass from Mason Bendigo (Brandon White kick)
||Garcia 34 FG
||Connor Harris 23 run (White kick)
||Decoryan Holman 22 pass from Long (Garcia kick)
- Northeastern State defeated Lindenwood for the first time in school history. The series is now tied 1-1. This is the second-straight year the two programs have met in the season finale.
- Senior running back Joel Rockmore made his team-leading 35th career start. He finished his career with 42 games played.
- Rockmore finished the game with 141 all-purpose yards (116 rushing, 25 receiving), which included his 12th-career game with at least 100 yards rushing. He also ended his career with a school-record 4,423 all-purpose yards.
- Senior Thor Long made his second start of the season and 10th of his career at quarterback. He finished the game with career highs for completions (19), passing yards (260) and passing touchdowns (2). He also rushed 19 times for 88 yards.
- The starting offensive line combination was Jordan Baldwin (LT), Brian West (LG), Brian Hobbs (C), Lance Cox (RG) and Tyler Easter (RT). This was the eighth time this season those five started together.
- The RiverHawks scored first for the 20th time since joining the MIAA prior to the 2012 season. NSU improved to 7-13 when scoring first over the past four years. This is also the fifth time NSU scored first this season (Fort Hays State, Nebraska-Kearney, Missouri Southern State, Washburn).
- NSU’s 10-7 lead at the half was the sixth halftime lead of the season.
- This was the second time this season that a Northeastern State opponent did not score a point in the fourth quarter (Nebraska-Kearney).
- Junior kicker Eddie Garcia made a 34-yard field goal at the end of the first half. He made a field goal in five of the final six games.
- Junior wide receiver Jamari Pope recorded his fourth touchdown catch of the year. This tied him with junior wide receiver Matthew Butler for the most TD receptions.
- Senior wide receiver/punter Garrett Powell had a punt return of 20 yards, which was NSU’s longest of the season and the first of Powell’s career.
- Powell finished with a game-high six catches for 49 yards.
- Sophomore tight end Decoryan Holman scored his first touchdown of the year on a 22-yard reception with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to put NSU up 17-14.
- Sophomore wide receiver Zac King became the third NSU receiver to record at least 100 yards receiving this season (Powell, Butler). He finished with 104 yards on four receptions, including a season-best 59-yard haul in the second quarter.
- Junior defensive back Darian Morris had four pass breakups, bringing his season total to a team-high nine. He also finished with a team-best nine tackles.
- This was the first game all season Northeastern State did not register at least one pass sack.
- The RiverHawks were down 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter. This was the first time since 2013 they won when trailing going into the final quarter.
- NSU blocked a punt in the second quarter. This was the first blocked punt of the season for Northeastern State.
- The RiverHawks dominated time of possession, 34:18-25:42. This was the second-highest TOP for NSU this year.
- Northeastern State tallied a season-high 25 first downs and a season-best 441 yards of total offense.
- NSU finished the game 6 of 15 on third downs, which tied for the second-most third-down conversions this season.