Huge crowd sees Bearcats rout Gorillas

? Mitch Herring ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, helping Northwest Missouri State beat Pittsburg State 29-7 Thursday night in front of the largest crowd to see an Division II game since the NCAA reorganized its lower divisions in 1973.

The announced attendance of 26,695 at Arrowhead Stadium broke the previous mark of 20,575, set in 1977 when Nevada-Las Vegas played at Boise State. Both of those schools now play in Division I-A.

John McMenamin threw for 313 yards for Northwest Missouri State, including a 12-yard scoring pass to Adam Otte, on 29-for-38 passing. He also ran for a 2-yard score on his only rushing attempt as the Bearcats handed Pittsburg State its second loss in six days.

The game was promoted as the “Clash of the Champions,” with the two schools having combined for five Division II and NAIA national titles and 12 of the last 13 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Assn. championships.

But on Thursday, fifth-ranked Northwest Missouri State (7-0, 5-0 MIAA) dominated the 11th-ranked Gorillas (5-2, 3-2) from the outset.

The Bearcats forced four turnovers including two interceptions by safety Ryan Miller and outgained Pittsburg State 467 yards to 139.

The Gorillas, whose only touchdown came on Aaron Hight’s 47-yard interception return in the closing minutes, have not scored an offensive touchdown in their last two games. They lost 13-3 to Emporia State on Saturday.

Herring broke free for a 28-yard touchdown on Northwest Missouri State’s opening drive and added a 1-yard scoring run on the Bearcats’ first possession of the third quarter for a 26-0 lead.

Northwest Missouri State running back Mitch Herring, left, reaches out as he puts the ball into the end zone. The Bearcats hammered Pittsburg State, 29-7, on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium.

McMenamin’s touchdown run put Northwest Missouri State up 12-0 in the second quarter. He added the touchdown pass to Otte later in the period, after Miller’s first interception, for a 19-0 lead.

Josh Honey’s fumble recovery led to Herring’s second touchdown run, and the Bearcats converted Troy Tysdahl’s interception into Eddie Ibarra’s 40-yard field goal for a 29-0 lead.

The game was interrupted briefly with just over 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter when two fans carrying Pittsburg State signs ran onto the field. Both were tackled by security guards and taken away by police.