INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The NAIA Game of the Week lived up to its billing as the No. 1-ranked Marian University (Ind.) football team defeated the No. 7-ranked University of Saint Francis (Ind.), 45-38, in a shootout at St.Vincent Health Field in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon.
MU improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Mid-States Football Association Mideast League play, while USF dropped to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league play.
The Knights overcame a quick USF start as the Cougars opened a 14-0 lead just 5:55 into game. The teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the first half as USF went into the locker room with a 28-21 lead. The real fireworks came in the second half.
The Knights came right out on the opening drive of the half and tied the game at 28-28 when senior quarterback Adam Wiese hit senior tight end Nathan Jones with a 19-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play, 78-yard drive. The Knights held on defense and senior Michael Josifovski hit a 29-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 61-yard drive to give MU its first lead at 31-28 with 6:40 left in the third quarter.
USF responded with a six-play, 75-yard drive to take a 35-31 lead before MU answered with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Wiese to senior tight end Brandon Sherman. The play capped a quick three-play, 67-yard drive and gave MU a 38-35 lead.
USF tied the score at 38-38 on a 28-yard Emerson Ueber field goal to cap a marathon 14-play, 65-yard drive to open the fourth quarter. However, MU was able to answer with a long drive of its own. Lake capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took 5:53 off the fourth quarter clock with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 45-38. But, USF had one last opportunity.
The Cougars set themselves up in position to score with a first-and-goal at the MU three-yard line. However, a halfback pass was snuffed out by junior defensive end Seth Vondersaar and led to a bit of controversy near the end of the game. The play was ruled intentional grounding and a loss of down to set USF back to the 12-yard line with 10 seconds remaining. A third down pass was knocked away by sophomore Dimetri Oliver before the final fourth down play sailed out of the end zone to give MU the 45-38 win.
MU took advantage of three USF turnovers, including a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown. MU amassed 425 yards of total offense, while USF notched 522 yards of total offense, including 355 through the air. MU tallied 238 yards on the ground for the game. USF was nearly perfect on third down as the Cougars went 13-of-16 on third down for the game.
Sophomore running back Tevin Lake was the go-to guy again after he rushed the ball 28 times for 180 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns. Lake now has five 100-yard games in 2012 and has rushed for over 100 yards in the last three games.
USF running back Antoin Campbell finished with 27 carries for 141 rushing yards, while USF quarterback David Yoder went 27-of-45 for 322 passing yards and three touchdowns, but also had two interceptions. Wide receiver Aaron Knight finished with 10 catches for 119 yards, while Austin Coleman had a pair of touchdowns. Coleman finished with 97 yards receiving, while Akeim Kelsaw finished with 98 yards receiving.
Senior quarterback Adam Wiese overcame a slow start to finish 16-of-23 for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while senior tight end Nathan Jones and senior wide receiver John Hasty each had five catches. Jones finished with a team-high 74 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Knights were led by senior Stephen Rogers after he tallied 11 total tackles, including two solo stops. USF was led on defense by Taylor Brown, who had 12 total tackles, including five solo stops. Oliver and junior Obed Jean each had interceptions for MU.
The No. 1 Knights will remain at home next Saturday when they host Concordia University (Mich.) at 1 p.m. at St.Vincent Health Field. The game will air LIVE on the Knights Football Radio Network with Dr. David Pierce (p-b-p) and former starting linebacker Isaac Jean (color) calling all the action beginning at 12:45 p.m. You can also watch the game LIVE on the Knights Athletics Network at MUKNIGHTS.com.