Photo courtesy of Dale Grosbach Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Complete Schedule) All four host teams claimed victory in the 2012 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) Quarterfinals, including Missouri Valley and Morningside (Iowa) who remain unbeaten on the season. Other victors were Marian (Ind.) and defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.). The FCS semifinal pairings are set with Marian traveling to Missouri Valley (1 p.m. CST) and Saint Xavier heading to Morningside (12 p.m. CST). Both games are scheduled for Dec. 1.
Since 2000, the home teams are 39-12 overall in the FCS quarterfinals. Last season, host teams were 3-1 with Saint Xavier acting as the lone road winner with a 29-14 victory over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.).
Despite one of its lowest offensive outputs of the season, Missouri Valley improved to 12-0 with a 10-7 victory over Bethel (Tenn.) (9-4). The Vikings opened the scoring with 6:04 in the first quarter on a Seth Martinko to Bruce Reyes touchdown pass. However, the two sides went scoreless until Missouri Valley added some insurance on a Fabian Miramontes 23-yard field goal at the 9:04 mark of the fourth. Bethel would score on a 19-yard touchdown pass with approximately one minute remaining, but failed overcome the deficit. Missouri Valley overcame a season-low 259 yards of total offense by forcing three Bethel turnovers.
Morningside, who also improved to 12-0 on the season, punched its ticket to the semifinals for second time in program history after edging Southern Oregon (9-3), 47-44, in overtime. The two teams combined for 1,092 yards of total offense, but it was a four-yard touchdown pass that decided the contest. Following a Southern Oregon field goal to open the overtime, Mustang quarterback Joel Nixon connected with Joel McCabe on the game-winning four-yard touchdown pass. Nixon posted his second-straight dominant performance with 452 yards of total offense (106 rushing and 346 passing) and five touchdowns (one rushing and four passing). Morningside wide receiver Kyle Schuck also had a big day with a career-high 154 yards receiving on nine receptions, including an eight-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter.
Saint Xavier (11-1) improved to 5-1 all-time in FCS quarterfinal contests and 2-0 against Cumberlands (Ky.) (10-2) in the playoffs with a 35-21 win. The Cougars have not lost in quarterfinals since they fell 49-7 against former-NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) in 2007. Quarterback Jimmy Coy completed 21-of-36 of his passes for 307 yards, but was held without a touchdown pass for first time this season. All four Saint Xavier touchdowns were scored on the ground. The Cougars advance to a fourth-straight FCS semifinals.
For the second-straight season, Marian (10-1) advances to the FCS semifinals after downing Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-3), 45-34. The Knights scored 17 unanswered points in the first half to claim a 17-7 lead and outscored the Cougars 28-27 in the second half en route to the 11-point victory. Running back Tevin Lake keyed the Marian offense with 30 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns. The performance is Lake's seventh 100-plus yard effort of the season and fifth multi-touchdown game.
The Rome-Floyd County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the 57th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football Championship on Dec. 13. For the fifth-consecutive season, the game will kickoff at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga. The event will be televised live and in high definition on CBS Sports Television with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.
2012 Football Championship Series Quick Facts
• A combined 767 points were scored through 12 games, which is the highest two-round total since 2009 when 775 points were scored.
• Defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) is the only team remaining in the field with a national title. The Cougars improved to 5-1 in the FCS quarterfinals and will play in their fourth-straight semifinals against Morningside (Iowa) on Dec. 1.
• There are two repeat semifinalists that played in the 2011 FCS Semifinals: Saint Xavier and Marian (Ind.)
• Bethel's (Tenn.) 45-44 first round victory over Georgetown (Ky.) marked the first time the top-ranked team in the final NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll has fallen in the first round of the FCS, dating back to 1999.
• Seven teams have made at least 10 FCS appearances (including this year): Georgetown (18), Missouri Valley (10), Saint Francis (Ind.) (13), St. Ambrose (Iowa) (12), MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) (10), Baker (Kan.) (12) and Northwestern (Iowa) (16).
• There were nine repeat programs from the 2011 FCS First Round.
• Saint Francis extended its 2012 FCS qualifier-best first round win streak to 11 games with a 22-17 win over Baker. The Cougars last first round loss came in 2001 against Campbellsville (Ky.), 42-21.
• Six-time NAIA national champion and FCS regular Carroll (Mont.) failed to make the field of 16 for the first time since the 1999 season. The Fighting Saints had appeared in eight of the last 10 title games. Dickinson State (N.D.), who has 15 playoff appearances, is the squad with the second-most appearances to miss the cut this season.
• St. Ambrose's 12 appearances were the most amongst the field for a team that has never appeared in the title game. The Fighting Bees, who have never advanced past the quarterfinals, fell in the first round to Southern Oregon.
• There are no playoff newcomers in the field this year. William Penn (Iowa) has the fewest appearances amongst the group with one prior to this season. The Statesmen remain winless in two trips after the loss to Saint Xavier in the first round.
• William Penn made its first trip to the FCS First Round for the first time since 1975 - the longest drought amongst the qualifiers.
• The Mid-States Football Association Mideast Division (MSFAE) and the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) land the most squads in the 16-team field. The MSFAE is represented by Saint Xavier, Marian and Saint Francis. Competing out of the HAAC is Missouri Valley, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Baker.
• Two unbeaten teams remain in the FCS - Missouri Valley (12-0) and Morningside (12-0).