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Missouri Western wins third Mineral Water Bowl title

By Kerry Woods
Game Correspondent

Missouri Western won its third Mineral Water Bowl championship with a 35-23 victory over Concordia, St. Paul Saturday at frigid Tiger Stadium. Western's junior quarterback Michael Burton tied a bowl record with four touchdown passes to win the Offensive Most Valuable Player award and Concordia's junior defensive end Eric Power was voted the Defensive MVP of the 40th Mineral Water Bowl.

The Griffons overcame a 7-0 Concordia lead with 21 second quarter points, 14 in the last 34 seconds of the first half. A 46 yard pass from Burton to Jarrett Brooks midway through the quarter ignited the Western offense as Jeremiah White scored on a ten yard run on the following play. Concordia's senior quarterback James McNear had the first score of the game with a 23 yard run at 9:29 of the first quarter. McNear needed 285 yards of total offense to become the NCAA Division II career leader in that category but was held to 240 yards, 86 rushing and 154 passing.

A fumble on the kick return after Western's second touchdown, an 11 yard pass from Burton to Gijon Robinson, led to a 15 yard Burton to Brandon Hale touchdown with 7 seconds left to give the Griffons a 21-7 halftime lead. But Concordia went 70 yards in 8 plays to score early in the third quarter. The touchdown came on a 32 yard double pass as McNear tossed to receiver Antwon Williams who then threw to freshman Tyrone Ruffin alone in the end zone. The Golden Bears seemed to be driving for the tying touchdown on their next possession but senior linebacker Tony Matzke made a key stop on Aaron Cawthorn's third down run at the Western 2 forcing a 20 yard Brody Johnson field goal. Western maintained a 21-17 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

The defensive hold sparked the Griffons offense as they scored on drives of 71 and 36 yards early in the fourth quarter. Burton threw touchdown passes to Brooks and Hale to give the Griffons a 35-17 lead. McNear led the Golden Bears on one more scoring drive as he hit senior tight end Nate Harrington with a 9 yard touchdown pass with 1:37 left in the game. The pass attempt for a two point conversion was intercepted by defensive end Kyle Knighton making the score 35-23.

Missouri Western's junior tailback Jeremiah White was the game's leading rusher with 132 yards on 21 carries. Burton was 17 of 36 passing for 196 yards and an interception. Western's Jarrett Brooks and Brandon Hale each had four receptions as did Concordia's Tyrone Ruffin. Golden Bear linebacker Travis Johansen had 12 tackles, 2.5 for loss while Griffon linebacker Leon Douglas had 9, 2 for loss. The teams were nearly even in total offense as Missouri Western had 305 yards, Concordia 297.

With its third victory in four Mineral Water Bowl appearances Missouri Western became only the second team to earn three championships. William Jewell College won in their 1957, 1967 and 1973 bowl appearances. Since Western's triple overtime loss to Winona State in 2000 the MIAA school has won the last five against Northern Sun conference teams.

Keynote Speaker Curtis McClinton

Curtis McClinton, right, addressed a crowd of about 400 at the Mineral Water Bowl banquet. Jesse Hall, Activities Director, Excelsior Springs School District, is seated at left.

Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame running back, Curtis McClinton, was the keynote speaker for the 40th Annual Mineral Water Bowl banquet, held Fri., Dec. 2 at the Excelsior Springs High School. On Saturday morning, the former football star also served as the grand marshall for the MWB Parade.

McClinton was named the 1962 American Football League Rookie of the Year for the Dallas Texans, a team that later became the Kansas City Chiefs. For more information on McClinton you can obtain a souvenir edition published by the Excelsior Springs Standard from their offices on Thompson Avenue.

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