Florence, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Trevor Adams threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns as Northwest Missouri State capped an undefeated season with a 43-28 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne to capture the program's fourth Division II national championship.
Reuben Thomas caught two of Adams' touchdown passes while Billy Creason and Brady Bolles each ran for scores for the Bearcats (15-0), whose previous national title came in 2009.
Teverrius Jones got the start under center for Lenoir-Rhyne (13-2) because backup-turned-starter Josh Justice was dealing with an ankle injury. Jones lost two fumbles, did not complete a pass and hobbled off early in the third quarter.
Justice eventually came on in relief and ran for a score and threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Greyson Wells, who also caught a scoring strike from Corron Boston off a halfback pass in the fourth quarter.
The Bears, though, couldn't overcome the 17-0 hole they put themselves in.
Northwest Missouri State faced a 4th-and-7 from the Bears' 29-yard line on its opening possession and kept its offense on the field. Thomas made the decision pay off as he caught a short pass over the middle and broke several tackles en route to the end zone.
After Simon Mathiesen added a field goal, Creason went in from four yards out late in the first quarter to give the Bearcats a 17-0 cushion.
Lenoir-Rhyne finally got moving on its fourth possession, with Chris Robinson capping the 9-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Robinson, though, injured his shoulder on the run, and the Bears also lost starting center Parker Murray early in the second quarter.
A safety on a blocked punt and another Mathiesen field goal gave Northwest Missouri State a 22-7 halftime lead.
Jones lost a fumble early in the third quarter, and the Bearcats turned the turnover into more points, as Adams and Thomas connected again for a touchdown, this time coming on a deep 30-yard pass for a 22-point lead that was never seriously threatened.
The Bears, whose only national title came in 1960, broke the all-time NCAA Division II rushing record for yards in a season with 5,563.