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Football Championship Series Quarterfinal Preview

November 29, 2013
By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Complete Schedule) The 2013 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) Quarterfinals kick off action Saturday with seven of the NAIA’s top eight teams still in the hunt for a national title. Top-ranked Cumberlands (Ky.) and No. 2 Grand View (Iowa) headline the group as the lone remaining unbeaten teams at 11-0, while perennial powerhouse No. 3 Carroll (Mont.) and No. 4 Baker (Kan.) round out the host group.

Saturday’s winners will advance to play in the FCS Semifinals on Dec. 7. The semifinal pairings will be announced Saturday evening on www.NAIA.org.

Since 2000, the home teams in the quarterfinals are 39-12, including a 4-0 record in 2012. Saint Xavier (Ill.), who defeated MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), 29-14, en route to the program’s first-ever national title in 2011, was the last road team to win in the round of eight.

For the sixth-consecutive season, the Rome-Floyd County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the 58th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship on Dec. 21 at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga. The event will kick off at 4:30 p.m. EST.

Game 1 – Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-2) at Cumberlands (Ky.) (11-0), 12 p.m. EST
Cumberland (Ky.) and Saint Francis (Ind.) face off for the second time in FCS history, with the Cougars claiming victory in the 2008 quarterfinals, 31-20, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Saint Francis (9-2) owns six quarterfinal victories, while Cumberlands – one of the NAIA’s two remaining unbeaten teams at 11-0 – is searching for its first. The Patriots have played teams from the Mid-States Football Association in both of their previous quarterfinal appearances – Saint Francis (2008) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (2012).

The top-ranked Patriots flexed their muscles on offense in the first round against St. Ambrose (Iowa). Cumberlands, who leads the NAIA is rushing offense (362.1) and is second in scoring offense (48.3), raced for 518 total yards, including 412 on the ground, en route to the 56-28 win. Tailback Hunter Lewis and quarterback Adam Craig led the charge for the Patriots. Lewis ended the contest with 14 carries for a game-high 143 yards, while Craig was second with 114 yards on 24 attempts and a season-best five touchdowns. He also threw for two scores, bringing his total to seven on the afternoon.

Cumberlands has scored 50-or-more points in six games this season, including a season-high 70 points against Campbellsville (Ky.) on Nov. 2.

Despite struggling with injuries throughout the season, Saint Francis advanced to the quarterfinals for the 12th time since 2000 with a 20-13 win against FCS newcomer Faulkner (Ala.) in the first round. The Cougars’ defense held its ground with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, halting a 17 play, 77-yard drive on the 1-yard line to seal the 7-point victory and hold one of the NAIA’s top offenses to season lows in points, passing yards and total yards.

On the season, the Saint Francis offense is 10th in pass offense per game (273.7) and 23rd in total scoring offense (345). Quarterback David Yoder, who started the season as a reserve, has taken most of the snaps under center for the Cougars. He leads the team with 1,659 yards passing and 15 touchdowns, while only throw four interceptions in 246 attempts. Wide receiver Cam Smith has emerged has his favorite target, leading the team with 55 catches for 889 yards and four touchdowns.

Statistical Comparison
Category (National Rank) Saint Francis Cumberlands
Scoring Offense 31.4 (27th) 48.3 (2nd)
Total Offense 418.5 (24th) 487.1 (5th)
Rushing Offense 144.7(NR) 362.1 (1st)
Passing Offense 273.7 (10th) 125.0 (NR)
Third Down Conversion 48.1% (5th) 51.9% (3rd)
Scoring Defense 19.5 (13th) 19.5 (13th)
Total Defense 354.1 (28th) 330.2 (19th)
Rushing Defense 150.5 (31st) 120.9 (13th)
Pass Defense 203.6 (36th) 209.3 (46th)
Sacks 19.0 (47th) 29.0 (15th)


Game 2 – Tabor (Kan.) (10-2) at Grand View (Iowa) (11-0), 1 p.m. CST
Grand View (Iowa) – the only newcomer to the quarterfinals – hosts the only road team to win in the first round, when the Vikings welcome Tabor (Kan.) to Williams Stadium on Saturday. Grand View (11-0) is playing in its second all-time FCS and, prior to their win against Ottawa (Kan.), was winless in the event. Tabor (10-2) – the second-straight Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opponent for Grand View – is making its second all-time trip to the quarterfinals with the first coming in 2005. The Bluejays lost in that contest 48-13 to former-member Sioux Falls (S.D.).

Grand View was dominant in its 38-13 first round win over Ottawa. The Vikings allowed Ottawa only 186 yards of total offense and held Braves’ running back Luke Lundy under 100 yards rushing for the first time in nine-straight games. Offensively, Grand View tallied 348 of its 435 total yards on the ground with three individuals racing for more than 85 yards. Tailback Mike Perez led the trio with 20 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Derek Fulton had 98 yards and a score on 13 attempts.

Grand View possesses one of the NAIA’s best defenses, ranking second nationally in rushing defense per game (78.0), total defense per game (259.3), scoring defense per game (15.3) and sacks (44.0). The Vikings have allowed only one 100-yard rushing performance in 11 games this season.

Tabor advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 14-13 win at No. 8 Benedictine (Kan.) last Saturday. The Bluejays’ sealed the victory with a blocked PAT on what proved to be the final score on the game. Tabor’s defense shined in the contest, holding the high-powered Raven offense to 226 yards of total offense and 4-for-11 on third down. Offensively, quarterback Tyler Davis led the offense with 94 yards rushing and a touchdown on 25 attempts.

The Bluejays enter Saturday with the NAIA’s second-best rushing offense, averaging 329.1 yards per game, while also showcasing a No. 4 defense that surrenders only 282.1 yards per game. Running back James Monroe, who set the program’s career rushing record earlier this season, paces the offense with 1,749 yards and 16 touchdowns. Monroe has recorded 30-or-more carries in seven games this season, including a season-high 51 attempts on Nov. 16 against Ottawa.

Statistical Comparison
Category (National Rank) Tabor Grand View
Scoring Offense 33.0 (20th) 37.2 (10th)
Total Offense 419.6 (21st) 452.2 (10th)
Rushing Offense 329.1 (2nd) 215.7 (15th)
Passing Offense 90.5 (NR) 236.5 (22nd)
Third Down Conversion 45.5% (10th) 44.7% (14th)
Scoring Defense 18.7 (12th) 15.3 (2nd)
Total Defense 282.1 (4th) 259.3 (2nd)
Rushing Defense 124.6 (15th) 78.0 (2nd)
Pass Defense 157.5 (10th) 181.3 (20th)
Sacks 25.0 (23rd) 44.0 (2nd)


Game 3 – Missouri Valley (9-2) at Carroll (Mont.) (11-1), 12 p.m. MST
Six-time national champion Carroll (Mont.) – the only team remaining in the field with a national title – is the most experienced team among the programs with 13 quarterfinal appearances since 2000. The Fighting Saints own an 11-1 record in the round, dating back to 2000, with their only loss during the stretch coming in 2006 against Saint Xavier (Ill.), 14-7. Carroll (11-1) welcomes Missouri Valley (9-2) to Nelson Stadium in Helena, Mont., Saturday at 12 p.m. MST.

Points will be at a premium Saturday in Helena, as Carroll and Missouri Valley boast two of the NAIA’s top defenses. The Vikings pace the NAIA in scoring defense (11.5), total defense (213.5) and rushing defense (64.6), while the Fighting Saints are among the top four in scoring defense (15.8) and run defense (107.9)

In their first round win against Georgetown (Ky.), Carroll recovered from an early 15-point deficit en route to a 38-28 win and to improve to 3-2 all-time against the Tigers in the FCS. Much as they have been all season, the Fighting Saints’ offense was led by quarterback Dakota Stonehouse and running back Dustin Rinker. Stonehouse ended the contest 14-of-18 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 87 yards and two scores. Rinker led the team with a game-high 115 yards rushing on 24 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.

Defensively, Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year Sean Bloomquist was named the game’s defensive MVP after finishing with 14 tackles (11 solo), three tackles for loss, two sacks, one fumble recovery and a blocked punt. He also hauled in a touchdown pass early in the second quarter.

Missouri Valley, who is 3-3 all-time in the quarterfinals, returns to the round of eight for the second-straight season after thumping No. 12 Northwestern (Iowa), 38-13. The Vikings’ top-ranked defense shined in the victory, holding the Red Raiders to only 157 yards of total offense – 258 yards below their season average. Missouri Valley also forced three turnovers, including two interceptions. Danny Reyes paced the team with a game-high nine tackles, including eight solo stops and one of Missouri Valley’s six sacks. Quarterback Zack Dorton, who was making his first start of the season after Bruce Reyes suffered a season-ending injury in the Vikings’ season finale against Avila, completed 10-of-30 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown, while tailback Malachi Daniels had 18 carries for 62 yards and a score. Overall, Missouri Valley tallied 317 yards of total offense and scored 24 unanswered points to end the game, including two punt returns for touchdowns.

Statistical Comparison
Category (National Rank) Missouri Valley Carroll
Scoring Offense 31.7 (36th) 36.3 (11th)
Total Offense 432.0 (19th) 435.3 (16th)
Rushing Offense 158.5 (49th) 250.1 (8th)
Passing Offense 273.5 (11th) 185.3 (48th)
Third Down Conversion 35.9% (48th) 42.4% (18th)
Scoring Defense 11.5 (1st) 15.8 (3rd)
Total Defense 213.5 (1st) 326.3 (16th)
Rushing Defense 64.6 (1st) 107.9 (4th)
Pass Defense 148.8 (7th) 218.4 (NR)
Sacks 35.0 (8th) 36.5 (6th)


Game 4 – Morningside (Iowa) (10-1) at Baker (Kan.) (11-1), 1 p.m. CST
Defending national runner-up Morningside (Iowa) will be appearing in the quarterfinals for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons when the Mustangs visit Baker (Kan.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. CST. Baker and Morningside have met once previously in the FCS with the Mustangs claiming a 65-27 win in the 2008 first round. Baker, who is hosting its first quarterfinal game since 1993, is 5-1 all-time in the round, while Morningside is 2-5.

Morningside amassed 685 yards of total offense in a 40-21 victory against Rocky Mountain (Mont.) last Saturday in the FCS first round. The Mustangs featured a balanced offensive attack with 347 yards rushing and 338 yards passing. Tailback Brandon Wegher had a career day against the Battlin’ Bears with 277 yards rushing – the second highest single-game performance in Morningside history – and two touchdowns. Wegher was named the contest’s Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game for the effort. Morningside’s passing attack was led by quarterback Ryan Kasdorf, who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns with throws of 52 and six yards to Kyle Schuck.

On the season, the Mustangs showcase one of the NAIA’s top offenses, ranking among the top five nationally in total scoring offense (555), total offense per game (584.3), first downs per game (30.3), pass efficiency (88.5), rushing offense per game (272.3), pass offense per game (312.0) and total pass offense (3,432).

In the first round, Baker found itself deadlocked in a battle with Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Sterling (Kan.), 7-7, late in the fourth quarter. However, wide receiver Clarence Clark, who also handles the kicking duties for the Wildcats, capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive with a 28-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to lift Baker to a 10-7 victory. The win was the first in the FCS for Baker since 1993 when the Wildcats defeated Doane (Neb.), 28-21, in the Division II championship.

Clark was also named the game’s offensive MVP after finishing the game with three catches for 118 yards, including the game’s only touchdown – an 89-yard strike with 2:38 left in the first half.

The Wildcat defense held Sterling’s offense to less than 200 yards of total offense for only the second time this season. Nick Becker led the unit with 10 tackles (four solo) and one sack.

Statistical Comparison
Category (National Rank) Morningside Baker
Scoring Offense 50.5 (1st) 36.2 (12th)
Total Offense 584.3 (2nd) 436.0 (16th)
Rushing Offense 272.3 (5th) 208.6 (17th)
Passing Offense 312.0 (5th) 227.4 (27th)
Third Down Conversion 54.9% (1st) 38.8% (31st)
Scoring Defense 17.5 (7th) 17.6 (8th)
Total Defense 284.2 (5th) 337.6 (22nd)
Rushing Defense 114.7 (9th) 141.6 (27th)
Pass Defense 169.5 (15th) 196.0 (30th)
Sacks 18.0 (49th) 23.0 (28th)