Jefferson City, MO

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced they have made a friendly wager on the outcome of the Division II football national championship game to be played on Saturday (Dec. 19) between the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats and the Shepherd University Rams.

Both teams are undefeated coming into the championship game, which will be played at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. Northwest Missouri State University is located in Maryville, Mo., and Shepherd University is located in Shepherdstown, W. Va.

“Year in and year out, the Bearcats are among the elite teams of Division II football, and 2015 has been an exceptionally good year,” said Gov. Nixon, who visited with Head Coach Adam Dorrel and members of the team in Maryville earlier this month. “Led by First Team All-Americans Shane Smith and Kevin Berg, I’m confident the Bearcats will bring the trophy back to the Northwest Missouri campus for the second time in three years. In the highly unlikely event the Rams prevail, I’ve wagered some barbecue from Maryville’s own award-winning Toad Hollar BBQ. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the experience and skill of the Northwest team will carry the day.”

Toad Hollar BBQ is a member of the Kansas City Barbecue Society and has been entering barbecue competitions around the Midwest since 2001. Among its specialties are beef brisket and babyback ribs.

“This year’s Shepherd University team personifies the best traits of the Mountain State,” Gov. Tomblin said. “When the Rams’ outstanding quarterback Jeff Ziemba was injured early in the semifinal game against Grand Valley State, backup Connor Jessop capably stepped in and led his team to a heart-stopping 34-32 victory. Whichever talented young man leads Shepherd against Northwest Missouri State on Saturday, I’m confident the Rams will capture their first national championship and bring it back to West Virginia.”

Gov. Tomblin said that if the Rams undefeated season does end in the national championship game, he will send a selection of West Virginia’s outstanding Eastern Panhandle apples to Gov. Nixon.