KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Defending national champion Saint Francis (Ind.) and Reinhardt (Ga.) will play for a national title, as the two teams claimed victories Saturday in the 2017 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) Semifinals. The Cougars are back in the national final for the second-straight season.
The 62nd annual NAIA Football National Championship is scheduled for Saturday, December 16 at 6 p.m. EST in Daytona Beach, Fla. The City of Daytona Beach hosts the event at Municipal Stadium for the fourth-straight season. For fan and visitor information, including ticket details, click here.
FCS hosts went unbeaten (2-0) on Saturday, which is the first time that has occurred since the 2013 season. Since 1997, semifinal home teams boast a 30-12 record.
2017 NAIA Football Championship Series – Semifinal Notes
Game 1 – Saint Francis (Ind.) (13-0) def. Morningside (Iowa) (13-1), 43-36
• With the win, Saint Francis extended its NAIA-best winning streak to 22-straight games and continued its quest for a second-straight national championship. The Cougars – winners of seven-consecutive FCS games – are looking to be the first team to repeat since former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.
• Saint Francis now owns a 5-4 all-time record in the FCS semifinals, including a 4-1 mark at home. Morningside drops to 1-4 all-time in the round of four.
• Arguably the key play of the game was when Saint Francis defensive tackle Eric Hemmelgarn blocked a Morningside 19-yard field goal attempt with 5:20 remaining in the contest. The Cougars scored on their next possession to take a 37-28 lead with 1:27 left.
• Saint Francis running back Justin Green was once again the offensive star of the game, rushing for 234 yards and three touchdowns on 33 attempts. The Griffith, Ind., native now owns 1,883 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 career playoff games.
• Despite the loss, Morningside quarterback Trent Solsma played well, throwing for a game-high 406 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Wide receiver Conor Niles was Solsma’s top target with seven catches for 97 yards.
Game 2 – Reinhardt (Ga.) (12-0) def. Southern Oregon (12-1), 37-34 (2OT)
• Reinhardt punches a ticket to the national championship for the first time in program history. The Eagles are the first club to represent the Mid-South Conference in the title game since Cumberlands (Ky.) in 2013.
• Reinhardt, which is in only its fifth season as a varsity program, is now 1-1 all-time in the NAIA FCS semifinals.
• Southern Oregon is now 2-1 all-time in the FCS semifinals.
• Reinhardt and Southern Oregon’s overtime affair was the first semifinal game to take at least one extra period since the 2013 season when Cumberlands defeated Carroll (Mont.), 34-27. That contest was decided in the first overtime period.
• Reinhardt quarterback Billy Hall threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 44 yards and one score to lead the offense. The freshman from Scott, Tenn., was making his first career start.
• Nick Marquez was one of the heroes on the day for Reinhardt, as the junior kicker connected on a career-long 48-yard field goal – 12 yards longer than his previous career-best – with 40 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
• Southern Oregon’s Tanner Trosin had another great game for the Raiders. The senior quarterback threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Trosin posted at least 300 passing yards in 11-of-13 games this season.
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Football Championship Series, click here.