By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Complete Schedule) Cumberlands (Ky.) and Grand View (Iowa) continue to make program history as the two sides punched tickets to the 58th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship with semifinal victories today in the 2013 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS). Cumberlands won an overtime thriller against Carroll (Mont.), 34-27, while Grand View rolled to a 35-0 win against defending national runner-up Morningside (Iowa).
Both Cumberlands and Grand View will be playing in their first-ever championship game, when the two sides square off in Rome, Ga., on Dec. 21.
Since 2000, the semifinal home teams are 23-5. Only three visiting teams have won in the semifinals since 2004, including 2012 national champion Marian’s (Ind.) 20-17 victory at Missouri Valley a year ago.
Much as they have all season, Cumberlands relied on its NAIA-best rushing attack to down six-time national champion Carroll in overtime. Quarterback Aaron Craig led a ground game that tallied 287 yards on the afternoon with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 27 attempts. However, arguably Craig’s most important score of the afternoon came in the overtime when he connected with Iquan Deed for a 12-yard touchdown pass, which turned out to be the game-winner.
For Carroll, running back Dustin Rinker had another tremendous performance with a season-high 237 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 30 carries. The Fighting Saints held a 499 to 385 advantage in total yards. With the loss, Carroll falls to 12-2 on the season and 1-3 all-time on the road in the FCS semifinals.
In the first all-Iowa FCS semifinal in NAIA history, Grand View was dominant on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Vikings eclipsed 430 yards of total offense for the third-straight game with 455 yards (293 passing and 162 rushing). Despite single-digit temperatures, quarterback Derek Fulton completed 18-of-27 attempts for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Brady Roland was his primary target with seven catches for 146 yards and both of the previously mentioned touchdowns.
Defensively, Grand View held Morningside to 186 yards of total offense – 390 yards below its season average – including 70 from the passing game. The shutout is the first time Morningside has been held scoreless since the Mustangs lost 24-0 against former-member Sioux Falls (S.D.) on Oct. 14, 2006.
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, which will be streamed live on ESPN3.com, will kick off at 4:30 p.m. EST.
For more information on the NAIA Football Championship Series and the Russell Athletic-NAIA Football Championship, click here.