Phoenix Staff Reports
Northeastern State's football season will extend another game.
The school on Monday accepted an invitation to play Minnesota State-Mankato in the 46th Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo., at noon on Dec. 3.
In announcing the invitation, NSU athletic director Tony Duckworth called it "impressive" that a team that started the season 1-3 battled back to finish 7-4 and earn a postseason bid. The bowl is not a part of the Division II playoffs.
"This will be a great experience for our student-athletes, while serving as a building block for our move into the MIAA," Duckworth said.
NSU is a Division II Independent this year and will join the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) in 2012. The RiverHawks finished the regular season at 7-4 and nearly upset Lone Star Conference champion and Super Region 4, No. 1 seed Midwestern State on Saturday, Nov. 12. The Mustangs, who may move into the top spot in the AFCA and D2Football.com polls this week, scored a touchdown with 36 seconds to play to post a 37-34 win and remain unbeaten at 10-0 on the year.
Minnesota State is out of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Mavericks are 8-3 on the year after falling to Minnesota-Duluth, 31-19 on Saturday and narrowly missed earning a berth in the D-II playoffs in Super Region 3. MSU won the NSIC South Division title and a share of the NSIC regular season championship this year.
"One of our goals at the beginning of the year was to be playing in December," said NSU head coach Kenny Evans. "To say you are one of only 28 NCAA Division II teams to be offered a postseason opportunity says a lot about our program and it is an exciting reward for all we have accomplished."
This will be the fifth bowl game, and second Mineral Water Bowl, for NSU. It played St. Benedict's in the 1956 contest and lost, 14-13, in head coach Harold "Tuffy" Stratton's inaugural season. Stratton led the then- Redmen to the 1958 NAIA national championship two years later in the Holiday Bowl with a 19-13 victory over Arizona State College. In 1994, NSU won its second national title.
The last time the school was in the postseason was a 2000 first-round D-II playoff loss to Mesa State.
NSU bowl history
1952 Shrimp Bowl -- lost 41-20 to Sam Houston State
1956 Mineral Water Bowl -- lost 14-13 to St. Benedict's
*1958 Holiday Bowl -- beat Arizona State College 19-13.
1963 All-Sports Bowl -- beat Slippery Rock 59-12
* national championship game.