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Tyler Flanagan scored three different ways in the Wildcats’ NCAA Division II playoff opener Saturday, but the Super Region 3 No. 3 Bearcats carried on.

The Central Washington University football team fell 50-21 to Northwest Missouri State before a crowd of 2,907 people Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Maryville, Missouri.

Flanagan, a redshirt freshman running back of Woodland, put the Wildcats (8-3 overall) on the board with an eight-yard second-quarter pass from Quincy Glasper, returned a kickoff 94 yards for a score and ran a yard into the end zone on a Statue of Liberty play in the fourth quarter as he turned 12 carries into 93 yards, took four catches 16 yards and went 237 yards on eight kick returns.

Glasper completed 12 of 23 passes for 91 yards and a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times, and Sam Sanchez led receivers with two catches for 31 yards.

Jahleel Breland led Wildcats tacklers with 11 and recovered a fumble that Zach Stecklein forced, Stecklein made eight stops — two in the backfield — and got through for a sack, Patrick Rogers broke up two passes and Christian Penny blocked a fourth-quarter extra point.

Northwest Missouri State (10-1) out-gained Central for 28 first downs to 10, 217 rushing yards to 82 and 255 passing yards to 91, and out-possessed the Wildcats 38 minutes, 17 seconds to 21:43.

Bearcats junior quarterback Braden Wright threw 11-of-15 for 178 yards and three touchdowns, senior running back Al McKeller went 130 yards for two scores on 23 carries, and senior wide receiver Imoni Donadelle caught three passes for two end zone trips.

Sophomore linebacker Isaac Vollstedt anchored his defense with seven tackles, senior defensive end Sam Roberts stopped three ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage and recorded a sack and a half, junior linebacker Sam Phillips forced a fumble that junior linebacker Elijah Green recovered, and senior defensive back Isaiah Nimmers and Drew Dostal both had interceptions.

Central, which won its fourth Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in a row and its 11th since the GNAC’s foundation in 2001, qualified for its first playoff appearance since 2017 and its sixth all-time and will join the Lone Star Conference in 2022.

Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association champion Northwest Missouri State, which won Division II titles in 1998, 1999, 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2016, advanced to play at No. 2 Harding (Searcy, Ark.) in the quarterfinals Nov. 27 in its 17th playoff appearance in a row.

The Wildcats and Bearcats met for the second time in history after Northwest Missouri State survived Central 21-20 in the quarterfinals in 2009 at Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg.

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