Photo by Aaron Suozzi
Kansas City, Mo. - (Scoreboard) For the second year in-a-row, six of eight hosts were on the winning end in the first round of the 2012 NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS). The eight winners advance to quarterfinal action on Nov. 24. Quarterfinal pairings will be announced mid-morning Sunday on www.naia.org.
With a 6-2 record today, the host schools are now 78-26 in first round action since 2000. The last group to go unbeaten in first round play was in 2009 (8-0).
Bethel (Tenn.) (9-3), the lowest ranked team in the final NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll to make the field, earned the biggest upset of the day with a 45-44 victory over previously unbeaten Georgetown (Ky.) (10-1). Trailing 44-39 with 30 seconds remaining, Wildcat kickoff return specialist Jahron Reynolds bolted 92-yards for Bethel's third-straight non-offensive touchdown. Bethel's two-point conversion attempt failed, but the defense held strong over the final 13.9 seconds to maintain the upset.
Defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) (10-1) advances to its fourth-consecutive quarterfinal with a 31-0 shutout victory over William Penn (Iowa) (9-3). The Cougars showcased a dominant effort on both sides of the ball, posting more than 400 yards of total offense for the third-straight game, while the defense held the NAIA's best running team to a season-low 100 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jimmy Coy highlighted the offense with 336 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Marian (Ind.) (9-1) and Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-2) move on to a third-straight quarterfinal with victories over Northwestern (Iowa) (9-3) and Baker (Kan.) (8-3), respectively. With the win, Marian remains unbeaten in first round games in three trips to the FCS, while Saint Francis extends its home FCS win streak to 17-straight and first round streak to 11 games.
Ottawa (Kan.) (8-3) had its eight-game winning streak ended after a 56-21 loss at unbeaten Missouri Valley (11-0). The victory is the first FCS first round win for the Vikings since 2007, when they defeated Friends (Kan.), 34-21, in first round action.
Morningside (Iowa) (11-0) kept its unbeaten record intact and advanced to the quarterfinals for the seventh time in the last nine seasons with a 40-35 shootout win over Montana Tech. Quarterback Joel Nixon led the Mustangs not only with his arm, but also with his legs, rushing for 116 yards on 19 attempts and throwing for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Cumberlands (Ky.) improved to 10-1 overall after wiping out MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), 42-24. Patriot running back Terrance Cobb, who entered the FCS as the NAIA's leading rusher with 1,604 yards in 10 games, posted his seventh-straight 100-yard performance with 177 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries.
In the day's only other upset, Southern Oregon (9-2) scored 28 unanswered fourth quarter points en route to a 45-28 victory against St. Ambrose (Iowa) (9-2). With the win, the Raiders improve to 4-0 all-time in the first round and join Cumberlands as the only quarterfinal team that did not appear in last year's FCS.
The Rome-Floyd County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the 57th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship on Dec. 13. For the fifth-consecutive season, the game will kick-off at Barron Stadium in Rome, Ga. The event will be televised live on CBS Sports Television with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.
2012 NAIA Football Championship Series Notes
• A combined 524 points were scored in the eight first round games, which is the highest first round total since the NAIA went to one division in 1997.
• Defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) is the only team remaining in the field with a national title.
• With the first round victory, Saint Xavier has reached four-straight FCS quarterfinals, while Marian (Ind.) and Saint Francis (Ind.) are second with three-consecutive trips.
• Bethel's (Tenn.) 45-44 victory over Georgetown (Ky.) marks 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 are nine repeat programs from the 2011 FCS First Round.
• Saint Francis extends its 2012 FCS qualifier-best first round win streak to 11 games with a 22-17 win over Baker (Kan.). 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 are the most amongst the field for a team that has never appeared in the title game. The Fighting Bees have never advanced past the quarterfinals.
• 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.
• William Penn (Iowa) made its first trip to the FCS First Round for the first time since 1975 - the longest drought amongst the qualifiers.
• Georgetown, Saint Xavier, Saint Francis, Baker and Northwestern are this year's qualifiers with at least 10 wins all-time in the FCS.
• 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 (Kan.).
• Two unbeaten teams remain in the FCS -Missouri Valley (11-0) and Morningside (Iowa) (11-0).