Fresh off an impressive performance on the road a week ago, the McKendree University Bearcats will make their home debut Saturday when they host Northwood University.
And if any of the current Bearcats who were on the team a year ago have forgotten Northwood’s 32-27 win a year ago, it proabably won’t take coach Mike Babcock long to refresh their memories.
Trailing the Timberwolves by five points with under 90 seconds remaining, a potential Bearcats game-winning drive ended when quarterback Isaac Fisher had a pass intercepted in the Northwood end zone.
“We had a chance to win the game late, but we we had a couple of mistakes late and then of course had the turnover to end the game,’’ Babcock said. “We didn’t execute when we had the chance to beat a pretty good football team on the road. I’m sure the players remember last year and we don’t want to have it happen again on Saturday.’’
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One week after a convincing 50-27 win on the road over West Liberty University, the Bearcats (1-0) will look to run their two-year winning streak to seven games when they take on the Timberwolves beginning at 1 p.m. at Leeman Field. McKendree, which finished 5-6 a year ago, ended the 2014 season with five straight wins.
Last week, despite a 10-hour bus ride, the Bearcats looked to be in midseason form. Getting a school record six touchdown passes from Fisher and and nearly 600 yards of total offense and a solid effort from its defensive unit, the Bearcats dominated from the outset against a West Liberty team which had beaten the No. 19 ranked Division II team in the nation (Concord University) the previous week.
Junior linebacker A.J. Wentland led the Bearcats defense with a school record 22 tackles. Babcock, now in his third season as the Bearcats coach, was pleased by what he saw in all phases of the game. For their performances, Fisher and Wentland were chosen as the Great Lakes Valley Conference offensive and defensive players of the week.
“Offense, defense and special teams I thought we executed very well against a very good football team,’’ Babcock said. “But just how we handled everything... our first game, our first game on the road, being in a bus for 10 hours and getting up to play early the next day, I thought we handled everything very well.
“We’re looking forward to playing our first game at home in front of our fans. We just want to continue to improve each and every week.’’
A member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and located in Midland, Mich., Northwood enters the game with a 1-1 record. The Timberwolves opened their season with a 20-7 win over Northern Michigan, but lost to Ferris State a week ago.
“They have good size and speed,’’ Babcock said. “They run an option style offense and so defensively it will be important that we fill the gaps. We’ve them lkast year so we know what to expect. Its justa matter of execution and the players doing their assignments.
The Bearcats open GLVC play next Saturday when they travel to William Jewell University.
Going for the record
Senior wide receiever and former Edwardsville High School standout Cameron James will enter the Bearcats record book with his first catch Saturday. James, who hauled in six catches for 93 yards and a pair of scores last week against West Liberty is tied for the all-time school mark with 104 receptions with Dewayne Gatti. James also surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards a week ago.
On the air
The McKendree-Northwood game can be seen live on the Bearcat Sports Network (www.mckbearcats.com/watch). The pregame show begins at 12:45 p.m.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.