Football Championship Series First Round Preview
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Complete Schedule) Sixteen teams will begin action in the 2012 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) on Saturday with eight games in the first round. All games will be hosted on-campus with nine teams returning from the 2011 first round. Saturday's winners will advance to quarterfinal play on Nov. 24. Quarterfinal pairings will be announced mid-morning Sunday on www.NAIA.org.
Since 2000, the home teams in first round contests boast a 72-24 record, including a 6-2 record a year ago. The 2009 season was the last time first round hosts went unbeaten (8-0).
Marian (Ind.) and Southern Oregon enter Saturday unbeaten in first round contests. The Knights are 2-0, including a 31-0 rout of Grand View (Iowa) in 2011, while Southern Oregon - who's making its first appearance in the FCS since 2002 - is 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 23 points.
Northwestern's (Iowa) 10 first round victories are the most amongst the qualifiers, followed closely by Georgetown's (Ky.) nine wins.
Baker (Kan.), who travels to Fort Wayne, Ind., to play Saint Francis (Ind.), has not won a first round game since 1993, while William Penn (Iowa) is seeking its first-ever FCS victory in its second appearance.
All eight FCS First Round games will mark the first postseason meeting between the two teams.
The Rome-Floyd County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the 57th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship on Dec. 13. For the fifth-consecutive season, the game will kick-off at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga. The event will be televised live on CBS Sports Television with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.
2012 NAIA Football Championship Series First Round Game Notes
Game 1 - Bethel (Tenn.) (8-3) at Georgetown (Ky.) (10-0)
Toyota Stadium | Georgetown, Ky. | 3:30 p.m. EST
Live Stats | Game Televised on FOX College Sports Atlantic
• Mid-South Conference East and West Division champions collide as unbeaten Georgetown (Ky.) (10-0) welcomes Bethel (Tenn.) (8-3) to Toyota Stadium for a 3:30 EST kickoff. The two sides met previously this season on Sept. 29 with the Tigers claiming a 63-21 victory. It was the first meeting between Georgetown and Bethel since 2006.
• The Tigers own a 7-0 all-time record against Bethel (all regular season).
• Georgetown is the most decorated amongst the qualifiers with 24 victories in 18 appearances, including three national championships.
• Georgetown is 1-of-3 unbeaten teams this season at 10-0, marking the seventh perfect regular season during head coach Bill Cronin's 16-year tenure.
• The Tigers boast a 16-game home winning streak, dating back to 2010, including a 5-0 record at Toyota Stadium this season.
• The Georgetown offense is led by the consistent play of second-year starting quarterback Neal Pawsat, who owns the NAIA's fourth-best passing yards per game average at 287.1. He also ranks top-ten in total passing yards (2,871), total offense per game (287.2) and total offense (2,872).
• Defensively, the Tigers feature the nation's fifth-ranked defense, holding opponents to only 250.9 total yards per game. Georgetown has held opponents under 14 points in five games this season, including a 33-7 victory against then-No. 24 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the NAIA Football Game of the Week on Sept. 15.
• Bethel is making its fourth appearance in the Football Championship Series (FCS) and owns a 2-3 all-time record in FCS action, including a 2-1 mark in first round play.
• Overall, the Wildcats are 8-3 with two of those losses coming against teams that qualified for the FCS.
• Bethel features a strong running attack, led by Cordarious Mann and Raquis Hale, that averages 222.5 rushing yards per game - 12th nationally. Mann rests just 53 yards short of his third-straight 1,000-yard season with a team-high 947 yards on 170 carries, including nine touchdowns. Hale is second with 843 yards on 116 attempts.
• Defensively, the Wildcats are led by Adam Funk's 79 tackles, including five tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Game 2 - Ottawa (Kan.) (8-2) at Missouri Valley (10-0)
Gregg-Mitchell Field | Marshall, Mo. | 2 p.m. CST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) champion Missouri Valley puts its 10-0 record on the line when its hosts Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) champion Ottawa (Kan.) in the Football Championship Series first round on Saturday.
• Missouri Valley, who is 3-0 all-time against KCAC opponents in the FCS, owns a 19-2 all-time record against the Braves. This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams
• The Vikings have won three HAAC championships under the direction of head coach Paul Troth and are appearing in their fifth-straight FCS. Missouri Valley is 5-4 in first round games with their last victory coming in 2007.
• Missouri Valley owns one of the NAIA's best defenses, ranking amongst the top 10 nationally in pass defense per game (137.7), scoring defense per game (12.3), total defense per game (243.5), opponent third down conversion (26.4), pass defense efficiency (88.5) and opponent fourth down conversion (28.6). Michael Barns paces the team with 61 tackles, while Ty Phillips owns a team-best 12 sacks and 20 tackles-for-loss.
• Offensively, the Vikings are sixth in scoring offense per game (40.9) and 17th in rushing yards per game (421.6). Zavier Steward leads the ground attack with 737 yards on 108 attempts. Quarterback Bruce Reyes has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games. He ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency (158.6)
• Ottawa is 1-6 all-time in FCS contests with their lone victory coming against Hastings (Neb.), 40-34, in 2009.
• After opening the year 0-2, the Braves have won eight-straight to capture its second-consecutive KCAC Championship.
• Ottawa's offense has scored at least 28 points in 8-of-10 games this season, including a season-high 56-point effort against Bethany (Kan.) on Oct. 27. The Braves rank eighth nationally in scoring offense per game with a 38.1 average. Dual-threat quarterback Shane Gimzo leads the offense with 2,177 yards passing and 749 yards rushing. His 2,926 yards of total offense this season ranks eighth in the NAIA.
• Defensively, the Braves rank seventh in opponent third down conversion percentage (27.3), 11th in defensive pass efficiency (98.8) and 24th in scoring defense per game (20.6). Matt Gross leads the unit with 82 tackles.
Game 3 - Montana Tech (8-2) at Morningside (Iowa) (10-0)
Elwood Olsen Stadium | Sioux City, Iowa | 1 p.m. CST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• Morningside (Iowa), the last of the unbeatens at 10-0 this season, faces Frontier Conference champion Montana Tech (8-2) on Saturday in the first round of the Football Championship Series.
• The Mustangs claimed a spot in the field after winning their second-straight Great Plains Athletic Conference championship.
• Morningside owns a 7-8 all-time record in the FCS, including a 6-2 mark in first round contests. Their last first round victory came in 2010 when the Mustangs knocked off Dickinson State (N.D.), 38-17.
• Since 2010, Morningside is 15-2 at home with their most recent loss coming against St. Francis (Ill.), 21-17, in last year's first round
• The Mustangs showcase the nation's best defense, ranking first in the NAIA in rushing defense per game (43.3), total defense per game (227.6) and scoring defense per game (5.7). Morningside owns four shutouts, including a stretch of three-straight to end the regular season.
• Morningside's offense has been just as dominate as its defense this season, ranking second in the NAIA in total offense per game (503.4) and sixth in pass offense per game (296.3). Quarterback Joel Nixon leads the unit with 2,777 yards passing and 37 touchdowns.
• Montana Tech's last appearance in the FCS came in 2005 when it defeated former-NAIA member Azusa Pacific (Calif.), 24-17. The Orediggers own seven all-time appearances and are 3-6 in those contests.
• Montana Tech, who is the lone qualifier entering Saturday looking to rebound from a loss, is led by the NAIA's 10th-best pass offense averaging 273.4 yards per game. Quarterback Nick Baker orchestrates the passing attack to the tune of 2,663 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In addition to Baker, running back Pat Hansen plays a key role. Hansen has run for 100-plus yards in six games this season, including a season-high 162-yard effort in the Orediggers' loss to Southern Oregon on Nov. 11.
• Quarterback pressure is a key of the Montana Tech defense, as the Orediggers rank fifth in sacks per game (3.3) and seventh in total sacks (33.0). Overall, Montana Tech is allowing an average of 21.3 points and 401.4 yards per game.
Game 4 - William Penn (Iowa) (9-2) at Saint Xavier (Ill.) (9-1)
Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field | Chicago, Ill | 12 p.m. CST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• Defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) looks to become the NAIA's first back-to-back title winner since former-NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) won two-consecutive titles in 2008 and 2009. The Cougars take their first step towards that goal on Saturday when they host William Penn (Iowa).
• Saturday marks the first-ever postseason meeting between the two sides and sixth overall. Saint Xavier owns a 5-0 all-time record in the series.
• Saint Xavier is 11-6 in eight FCS appearances, including a 5-2 mark in first round action.
• The Cougars boast the NAIA's second-ranked passing offense at 324.2 yards per game led by quarterback Jimmy Coy. Coy, last season's National Championship Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game, ranks amongst the top 15 nationally in passing yards per game (268.3), total offense per game (283.9), pass efficiency (157.0) and total passing yards (2,415) despite missing two games due to injury. Wide Receiver Shane Zackery, Coy's favorite target for the second-straight season, leads the receiving corps with 881 yards and 12 touchdowns on 61 receptions.
• Linebacker Zach Dolph paces the defense with 94 tackles, including 17.0 tackles-for-loss. As a unit, the Cougars are holding opponents to an average of 14.6 points and 308.7 yards per game. Saint Xavier has been successful at stopping the run this season, ranking 13th in rush defense per game (105.1), which will be a key against William Penn's NAIA-best ground attack.
• This is the first postseason appearance - second all-time - for William Penn since 1975. The Statesmen are the only team amongst the field searching for its first postseason victory.
• William Penn leads the NAIA in total rushing yards with 3,530 yards on the ground this season. Quarterback Taylor Parsons leads the Statesmen's three-headed-monster ground attack with 791 yards (71.9 yards per game) and 11 touchdowns this season. Evan Ressler (664 yards) and Shawn Davis (554 yards) also boast 500-plus rushing yards this season.
• Working in conjunction with its powerful ground game is William Penn's dominate defense. The Statesmen rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense per game (13.4), pass defense efficiency (98.1) and total defense per game (299.5). William Penn has held opposing offenses to less than 14 points in five games this season, including a shutout victory against Bethel (Kan.) on Sept. 1.
• Linebacker Brock Peery leads the defense with 81 tackles in nine games this fall.
Game 5 - Northwestern (Iowa) (9-2) at Marian (Ind.) (8-1)
St. Vincent Health Field | Indianapolis, Ind. | 1 p.m. EST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• Marian (Ind.) hosts its second playoff game in school history when the Knights welcome Northwestern (Iowa) on Saturday. This is the first-ever meeting between the two sides
• The Knights are one of only two teams in the 2012 Football Championship Series unbeaten in first round play. Marian is making its third all-time appearance in. Last season, the Knights reached the semifinal round before falling to eventual national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.).
• Marian showcases a potent defense that ranks third in rushing defense per game (82.3), fifth in opponent first downs (134), fifth in scoring defense per game (14.0) and sixth in total defense per game (257.9). The Knights have held opponents to seven points or less in five games.
• Offensively, Marian boasts a balanced attack led by running back Tevin Lake and quarter back Adam Wiese. Lake has run for more than 100 yards in 6-of-9 games this fall en route to rushing 1,127 yards this season. He also boasts 12 touchdowns. Weise continues to be efficient, completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 2,151 yards and 21 touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions.
• Marian is 11-0 all-time when Lake rushes for at-least 100 yards.
• Northwestern, who is making its first appearances since 2006, enters the FCS as the second-most decorated team amongst the qualifiers with a 20-13 in 16 appearances, including two national titles. Additionally, the Red Raiders are 13-2 all-time in first round contests.
• Northwestern is led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Brandon Smith and Theo Bartman. Smith leads the duo with 1,346 rushing yards this season, while Bartman is second with 1,122. The two have combined for 34 touchdowns.
• Quarterback Davis Bloemendaal is completing 60 percent of his passes for 2,046 yards and 19 touchdowns.
• Defensively, Northwestern is allowing an average of 14.3 points and 239.8 yards per game. Jordan Carlson leads the team with 59 tackles (38 solo).
Game 6 - Baker (Kan.) (8-2) at Saint Francis (Ind.) (8-2)
Bishop John M. D'Arcy Stadium | Fort Wayne, Ind. | 12 p.m. EST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• Saint Francis (Ind.) hosts its first Football Championship Series (FCS) contest since the 2008 season when the Cougars host Baker (Kan.) on Saturday.
• Saint Francis is making its 13th all-time appearance in the FCS and is 19-12 (10-2 in the first round).
• The Cougars are led by the NAIA's all-time coaching wins leader Kevin Donley, who owns 262 career victories entering this weekend.
• Saint Francis' only two losses this season came against FCS qualifiers (St. Ambrose (Iowa) and Marian (Ind.)).
• The Cougar offense ranks in the top 15 nationally in third down conversion (51.1), first downs per game (23.1) and scoring offense (36.2 per game). Austin Campbell has been the focal point of the ground game this season, leading the team in yards (1,093), attempts (200) and touchdowns (11), while David Yoder and Josh Miller have split time at the quarterback position. Both are completing around 56 percent of their passes with Yoder leading the way with 1,134 yards and eight touchdowns. Miller owns 842 passing yards and six touchdowns.
• Taylor Brown leads the Cougars 15th-ranked defense with 84 tackles (39 solo) in nine games.
• Baker, who is one of three teams in the field from the Heart of America Athletic Conference, is making its 12th all-time appearance and first since 2008. The Wildcats have not won a postseason contest since 1993 when they defeated Doane (Neb.), 28-21, in the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs.
• The Wildcats have utilized a consistent ground game led by running backs Dillon Baxter and Jermaine Broomfield. Baxter leads the team with 767 yards on 143 carries, while Broomfield owns 575 yards on 112 attempts. The two are tied for the team lead with six touchdowns each.
• Similarly to Saint Francis, quarterbacks Jake Morse and Sam Vossen have split time this season Morse has completed 75-of-128 passes for 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while Vossen is 57-for-105 for 859 yards.
• Defensively, five Wildcats own at least 45 tackles this season led by Preston Schenck's 60. Second to Schenck is Andre Jolly with 57. Jolly leads the NAIA with 16 sacks this season, while ranking second with 21 tackles-for-loss.
Game 7 - MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) (8-2) at Cumberlands (Ky.) (9-1)
James H. Taylor Stadium | Williamsburg, Ky. | 12 p.m. EST
Live Stats | Live Video | Live Audio
• A pair of at-large selections faceoff when Cumberlands (Ky.) hosts MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Saturday. This is the first-ever postseason meeting between the two sides.
• Cumberlands is making its sixth all-time appearance in the Football Championship series and first since 2010.
• The Patriots are led by NAIA leading rusher Terrance Cobb. Cobb, who has run for at-least 165 yards in six-straight games, boasts 1,640 rushing yards on 191 carries with 21 touchdowns. Cobb set a career-high with 327-yard effort against Campbellsville (Ky.) on Oct. 27. Prior to 2012, Cobb had never run for more than 990 yards in a single season.
• As a team, Cumberlands is averaging 47.7 points per game and is yet to be held under 21 points this season.
• Defensively, the Patriots rank 10th in rushing defense per game (102.6) and 23rd in scoring defense (20.2 points per game).
• MidAmerica Nazarene is making its sixth-straight and 10th all-time playoff appearance. The Pioneers are 5-4 in first round games, including a 40-28 victory against former-NAIA member Southern Nazarene (Okla.) a year ago.
• Dual-threat quarterback Sean Ransburg leads the team with 2,057 yards of total offense (1,417 passing and 640 rushing), while running back Greg Gates ranks amongst the top ten nationally in total rushing (1,318), rushing yards per game (131.8), scoring (108) and all purpose yards (1,591).
• Defensively, the Pioneers boast a third-ranked pass defense (137.8 yards per game) and 10th-best total defense (273.8 yards per game). Joey Oxley paces the unit with 79 tackles (31 solo), while Mike McJunkins leads the team with 14.0 tackles-for-loss and five sacks.
Game 8 - Southern Oregon (8-2) at St. Ambrose (Iowa) (9-1)
Brady Street Stadium | Davenport, Iowa | 1 p.m. CST
Live Stats | Live Audio
• Both St. Ambrose (Iowa) and Southern Oregon are snapping long playoff droughts when the two sides meet at Brady Street Stadium on Saturday. St. Ambrose last appeared in the Football Championship Series in 2008, while Southern Oregon's last selection came in 2002.
• St. Ambrose is 3-8 all-time in FCS first round contests with its last victory coming in 2003.
• The Bees, who are led by quarterback Eric Williamson, rank 11th in total pass offense (2,730) and pass offense per game (273.0). Individually, Williamson is averaging 267.6 passing yards per game through 10 contests this season, including a season-high 434 passing yards against Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) on Oct. 20. Additionally, Williamson has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 11-straight contests, dating back to last season.
• Defensively, St. Ambrose ranks 13th in scoring defense with a 16.3 opponent points per game average. Jeremy Wallace leads the team with 123 stops (51 solo), while Ryan Chambers is second with 70 (22 solo).
• Southern Oregon joins Marian (Ind.) as the only other unbeaten team in first round action of the FCS. However, the Raiders have failed to advance beyond the quarterfinal round in three attempts, including back-to-back losses against Carroll (Mont.) in 2001 and 2002.
• The Raiders are led by a record-breaking offense that is riding an eight-game streak of at least 45 points. Southern Oregon leads the NAIA and has set new single-season program standards in passing offense (4,634), total offense (6,570) and scoring offense (544).
• Much of the Raiders success is due to the stellar play of quarterback Austin Dodge. Dodge leads the NAIA in passing yards (4,326), total offense (4,419), touchdown passes (36), completions (292) and attempts (447).
• Defensively, Southern Oregon is surrendering an average of 32.5 points and 453 total yards per game.