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Pitt State claims 41st Mineral Water Bowl title

Pittsburg State won the 41st Mineral Water Bowl defeating Bemidji State University 35-27 Saturday in Excelsior Springs. PSU senior tailback Germaine Race carried 33 times for 183 yards and 4 touchdowns to become the NCAA Division II career rushing leader as well as the game's offensive MVP. Race broke Brian Shay of Emporia State's rushing record of 6,958 on a 21 yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. Nathan Alleman's extra point gave him the MIAA career kick scoring record with 401 points.

The Northern Sun champion Beavers (9-3) won the statistical battle in nearly every category and kept the ball nearly 14 minutes longer and ran 32 more plays than the Gorillas. But an uncharacteristic 14 penalties for 115 yards cost them a scoring chance in the second half and set Pitt State up for Race's record breaking touchdown run.

Trailing 21-20 midway through the third quarter, BSU faced second and goal at the PSU 7. But a sack, a delay of game and a personal foul pushed them back to the 32. MIke McDonald's 50 yard field goal attempt fell short and was returned to the 39 by sophomore defensive back Bryan McMurtrey. Pittsburg State's quick striking offense needed only three plays to score. Quarterback Geno Waters completed a 41 yard pass to Derek Ryan and Race scored from the 16 on the next play giving Pitt State a 28-20 lead.

Then the Beavers helped the Gorillas on their next scoring drive with two unsportsmanlike penalties on the same play.

Pitt State (10-2) jumped to a quick lead with two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game. Race scored first on a 6 yard run then a 44 yard touchdown pass from Waters to Bryan Pray made it 14-0. Late in the quarter the Beavers started a 20 point run by tackling Race in the end zone to make it 14-2.

McDonald kicked a 37 yard field goal on the ensuing Beaver possession to cut the lead to 9. Despite forcing 3 PSU turnovers in the second quarter Bemidji State could manage only one touchdown. An interception by junior cornerback Josh Rose who returned the ball 27 yards to the Pittsburg State 28. set it up. Sophomore tailback Eurice Watson scored on a 3 yard plunge with 1:02 remaining to make the halftime score 14-12.

Bemidji State took their first and only lead of the game on a 7 play, 60 yard drive, their first of the second half. A 25 yard run by Watson put the Beavers in scoring position and quarterback Cory Wardrope ran it in from 10 yards out four plays later. A two point conversion pass to Dan Nagengast put the Beavers in front 20-14.

But the Gorillas answered quickly, 3 plays in 46 seconds, to regain the lead. A 25 yard run by Race was the big play of the drive and his 7 yard touchdown run tied the game. Alleman's PAT gave PSU a 21-20 lead.

Race scored twice in the fourth quarter including the record breaking run to give Pitt State a 35-20 lead. But the Beavers weren't finished. Wardrope connected on a 55 yard catch and run to Danny Rodgers down to the PSU 22. After a 7 yard Watson run, Wardrope completed a screen pass to Watson who ran it down to the one. Tailback James Moore scored from there to cut the Pitt State lead to 8.

With 3:15 and one timeout left in the game, Bemidji State decided to kickoff deep and put the game in the hands of it's defense. A series of runs by Race and a surprise 24 yard pass to Brian Barta enabled the Gorillas to run out the clock and protect their lead.

As usual, Pittsburg State's running game was it's bread and butter but the passing game chipped in for huge gains. Waters was 5 of 10 with one interception and threw for 152 yards. Bryan Pray caught 2 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Bemidji State's Wardrope was 15 of 30 with no interceptions and threw for 192. Receiver Tony Schreiber caught 5 passes for 62 yards and Danny Rogers caught 2 for 63. Running back Eurice Watson had a great day with 155 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards and a touchdown but his achievements were somewhat overshadowed by Race's historic day.

The senior tailback from Warrensburg, MO ended his tremendous college career with 6, 985 rushing yards and his four touchdowns made him the leading scorer in the history of college football, in all divisions, with 658 career points. He is the only player in college football history to score more than 600 point and have 100 touchdowns in his career. His four rushing touchdowns in the game tied a Mineral Water Bowl record established in 1948.

PSU's Ryan Meredith was voted the Defensive MVP of the game. The senior defensive end from Bartlesville, OK had 10 tackles and sacked Wardrope 3.5 times. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the MIAA over NSIC teams since Winona State defeated Missouri Western in 2000.

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