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History of The Fall Classic - How Far We've Come

History of The Fall Classic - How Far We've Come

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Published by Jason Lawrence

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Published by: Jason Lawrence on Nov 28, 2011
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11/28/2011

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By Jason LawrenceMissourian Reporter Headline: Look how far it has comeWhat started out as a single-game move to has turned intoa nine-year partnership and one of the most anticipated gamesof the year for Northwest and Pittsburg State.In fall 2002, with renovations underway at RickenbrodeStadium, former athletics director Dr. Bob Boerigter approached former President Dean Hubbard about moving theHomecoming Game to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.“I knew we would not be able to accommodate the crowdat the normal levels,” Boerigter said. “So I went down andcontacted the Chiefs. We found out that we really had aconflict if we played them on a Saturday, but if we werewilling to move the game that week with Pitt to Thursday,they would accommodate us and we could make that work.”The Homecoming Game was moved to a later date andthe “Clash of Champions” was born. Northwest won thatgame 29-7, in what the athletics department had said would bea one-year deal.The following year, the Chiefs approached Pitt Stateabout hosting the game and taking on all of the financial risksand planning responsibilities that Northwest had the previousyear. Pitt State accepted, and the “Clash of Champions” became the Fall Classic.“The second year we showed up, played the game andhad nothing to do with any of the work,” Boerigter said. “Weweren’t involved in any of the planning and didn’t get anymoney.”
 
The Bearcats took the second meeting at Arrowhead 20-19 behind a blocked field goal.After that, the Chiefs invited both teams back to make itan annual game and share all of the responsibility and revenuein a three-way partnership. The front office of the Chiefs had alot to do with turning the Fall Classic into a long-term deal.“Lamar Hunt, who was the owner of the Chiefs, was a bigfan of college football,” Boerigter said. “And Carl Peterson,who was the long-time president, started his coaching career ata Division II school. He had a warm spot in his heart for Division II athletics, particularly Division II football.”The third year of the partnership was arguably the mostsuccessful year of the series. It was a faceoff of No. 1 versus No. 2 in front of an MIAA-record crowd of 26,695. No. 1Pittsburg State defeated Northwest 21-17 for its first victory inthe Fall Classic.“Every year, that’s the biggest crowd we play in front of  by far,” head coach Mel Tjeerdsma said. “We play in a National Championship game and we have 7,000-8,000 (fans).We play at Arrowhead and the first eight years we’ve playedthere, we’ve averaged over 21,000.”The following year, Pitt State gave Northwest its lastMIAA loss with a 56-33 victory.The Bearcats have since won 45 straight MIAA contests,including the last four meetings with the Gorillas. Three of thelast four games have come with both teams ranked in the Top10.

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