Marqus Andrews had played at Arrowhead Stadium before, but on Saturday he was a key piece in a 38-17 win against rival Pittsburg State.
The senior tight end from Blue Springs High School hauled in three catches for 61 yards and three touchdowns in the win for No. 7-ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats.
His first touchdown tied the contest, his second gave the Bearcats the lead for good and his third put a punctuation mark on a win over the then-No. 13-ranked Gorillas.
Playing a little more than 11 miles away from his high school, Andrews had a career day in front of plenty of familiar faces. He played here in 2016 against Central Missouri, but was a freshman and didn’t record a catch in the win.
“It means a lot,” Andrews said when asked about the success playing so close to home. “I had a lot of family here. I probably had like 30 family members here in attendance watching, so it means a lot … them coming and watching me and me performing the way I did today.”
On Monday, the MIAA named Andrews the offensive player of the week, the first such honor for the tight end.
Heading into the game on Saturday, Andrews had six career touchdowns. He never had multiple touchdown catches in a game until this showdown against Pitt State and he matched his career high with four touchdowns in a season after the three-score performance.
Andrews finished with 61 yards receiving, ran for eight yards and returned two kicks for 25 yards.
He caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Braden Wright on a shovel pass with 8:33 left in the first quarter to tie it 7-7.
Less than three minutes later, Andrews gave the Bearcats the lead for good by hauling in a 20-yard touchdown catch from backup quarterback Mike Hohensee, catching the ball inside the front pylon.
“They do a really good job of getting him the ball different ways and the shovel pass for a touchdown,” Pittsburg State coach Tim Beck said of Andrews, an all-MIAA honorable mention pick last year. “You know, he’s a dynamic player. He’s a good blocker, yet he can do pass routes. He’s a big part of what they do offensively.”
Andrews’ longest score came on a trick play in the second quarter.
Up 21-7, the Bearcats trotted out kicker Parker Sampson to attempt a 52-yard field goal. Last week the Park Hill product booted a 53-yarder for the Bearcats against Emporia State.
But after lining up, the kicker and his holder, wide receiver Alec Tatum, both split out wide as receivers.
Hohensee, in as a blocker, moved back to quarterback and got the snap. He scrambled to his left and then threw to Andrews, who was wide open and scored from 35 yards out.
That gave Northwest a 28-7 lead and 28 unanswered points.
The play call was something the Bearcats came up with earlier in the week but still called MIAA director of officials Phil Laurie to make sure it was legal. Northwest got the play off before Pitt State had a chance to call a timeout.
“It was something we had seen on film,” Northwest coach Rich Wright said. “We were up late on Sunday night, I think I left the office at 1 o’clock in the morning. I’d put the offensive staff in charge of coming up with the unique fake because Pitt doesn’t really rush hard. We had to come up with something different.”
The fourth-and-7 play turned out to be the right decision. Wright said that kicking a 52-yard field goal attempt into the wind might’ve not been the way to go, but the attempt opened the door for Andrews’ touchdown.
“I felt like there was no way he was going to get it there,” Wright said. “We took our shot and hit it.”