(MARYVILLE, Mo.) The final seconds of Northwest's 27-13 semifinal win over Grand Valley State on Saturday sent Bearcat Stadium into a frenzy.
The population of Mel Tjeerdsma Field went from 22-plus to a couple thousand as fans, with four years of pent-up energy, tore down the goal posts in record time.
"You hear those stories about all those consecutive years with the goal posts coming down," defensive end Matt Longacre said. "We've seen videos and stuff like that but nothing compares to when you actually see it."
As soon as the post came down, they were on the move. But to where? The answer is right across town, at Burney's Sports Bar.
After opening its doors in 1997, the downtown Maryville establishment quickly saw two national title celebrations in 1998 and 1999. But it wasn't until the start of five straight title game trips in 2005 that it became an essential part of the party.
"The tradition used to be they would take the goal post and throw it in Colden Pond on campus," Burney's employee Kimberly John said. "One year (a student) decided to go into the freezing pond, get the goal post, and he brought it up here."
"It was a complete surprise (the first time)," Burney's owner Chris Burns said. "Just loyal fans to Burney's and the Bearcats, they said: 'Hey, we're brining it to your house,' and I'm like: 'Bring it on.' We give everybody a piece of it and just enjoy the heck out of it."
While one post still lands in Colden Pond, the other makes the one-mile up Fourth Street journey to Burney's. Once there, it's time to split the uprights as employees help saw it into small sections. Those make mementos for fans, coaches, and some new decor for the bar.
"They saw them down in the back and they've been putting them up here ever since," John said.