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Tigers, SBU in MIAA Game of the Week

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University football team finished 6-5 overall, 4-5 MIAA in 2001. From 2002-07, the Bearcats finished 12-54, 7-46 in conference action. From 2008-11, SBU went independent in football and stayed in the MIAA for all other sports and finished 24-20.

Then, the Bearcats, by MIAA rule, had to come back to the conference for football. Since then, the Bearcats are 4-13, 4-12 MIAA. Now, SBU and bottom-feeder Lincoln (Mo.) University will play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference starting next season in football and remain in the MIAA for the rest of the sports.

Even with the Bearcats' longtime MIAA struggles, Fort Hays State University has had problems against SBU.

"They are a very competitive football team, but you watch them on film, their defense flies to the ball and their offense does some very good things running the ball and passing the ball," third-year Tiger coach Chris Brown said.

The Tigers are 2-2 all-time against the Bearcats. In 2006, SBU defeated Fort Hays 39-21. In 2007, FHSU won 36-30. Two years ago, the Bearcats pulled off a 30-28 victory in Hays.

Last season, FHSU made a road comeback and tied the game with three seconds left in regulation on an amazing fourth down touchdown catch from Cornelius Gallon in the end zone. Wideout Tanner Hageman caught a TD in overtime for a 37-34 victory.

On Saturday, Fort Hays (2-4, 1-4 MIAA) plays host to SBU (1-5, 1-4 MIAA) in the conference's TV Game of the Week.

Start time is 2:30 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium. Last season's victory propelled Fort Hays to a 4-1 finish after a 1-5 start.

Craig Schuler, Lindenwood (Mo.) University's offensive coordinator for the last nine seasons and in his 23rd year as a collegiate coach, took over for the Bearcats this season. In 2010, he helped the Lions set a national record with an 8.94 yards per play average.

"SBU is a very good football team," Brown said.

Southwest Baptist, long known for an explosive offense and passing game, has junior quarterback Willie Tindal, who has completed 105 of 181 passes for 1,559 yards with a 10/7 TD/INT ratio.

Senior linebacker Shaquille Shedd leads the Bearcats with 53 tackles after he led SBU and ranked fifth in the MIAA with 105 stops in 2012. Shedd has impressed Brown with his play the last two years and said the Bearcat defense has improved because of the linebacker.

"They are starting to play the game the same way that he does," Brown said.

Owens tacks on another award

Fort Hays senior punter Cameron Owens collected MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors Monday. Later, he earned three national honors for his big performance last Saturday in a 31-17 road win against Lindenwood.

Owens earned national player of the week honors by D2Football.com, USA College Football and Beyond College Sports Network. He averaged 51.2 yards on his four punts, including three inside the Lions' 20-yard line. Owens also averaged 56.8 yards on six kickoffs. Owens stands 11th nationally in punting average at 43.3 yards per punt.

"It gives us good field position," senior defensive lineman Jeremy Jones said. "He has done a real good job in there. He works real hard at what he (does), and it's showing on the field."