Carroll back in title gameCarroll College has been here before. It’s all new for Lindenwood. The top-ranked and defending NAIA national champion Saints (12-0) host No. 7 Lindenwood (11-1) in a semifinal game at noon on Saturday, with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Carroll College has been here before. It’s all new for Lindenwood.
The top-ranked and defending NAIA national champion Saints (12-0) host No. 7 Lindenwood (11-1) in a semifinal game at noon on Saturday, with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
It’s Carroll’s ninth straight year in the playoffs for the Saints, who have won five of the last six national titles. Lindenwood is making its first appearance in the semifinals.
Carroll coach Mike Van Diest is impressed with Lindenwood’s talent and Lindenwood coach Patrick Ross noticed the Saints’ discipline.
Ross said watching the reaction of a Carroll player after giving up a touchdown in the Saints’ first-round win over Dickinson State told him a lot about the team.
“The discipline aspect of their team is outstanding. That’s the No. 1 thing on saw on film,” Ross said. “I was watching on film and Carroll’s cornerback slipped and gave up a touchdown. But he didn’t hang his head. He just slapped his hands together as if to say, ‘OK, I’ll be ready to go the next time.’
“You can just tell they’re so focused, so committed and so mentally tough,” Ross said. “That’s probably why they’ve found ways to respond to tough situations.”
The Saints are on their third quarterback of the season due to injuries. Freshman Matt Ritter gets his first career start against Lindenwood. In a backup role, Ritter has averaged 49 yards passing and has thrown three touchdown passes. He also averages 34 yards rushing per game.
Gabe Le leads Carroll with 1,036 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, while John Camino has 656 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Travis Browne has 982 yards receiving and 11 scores on the season.
The Lions are led by quarterback Ben Kisner, who has completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,432 yards and 30 touchdowns.
“He’s got a good release and good vision,” Ross said. “He understands protection and where the rush is going to be coming from. He gets the ball out in a hurry and he’s accurate.”
Kisner has only been sacked five times all season; Carroll averages 4.5 sacks per game. Rick Young has 14 sacks for a loss of 94 yards this season while two-time Frontier Conference defensive MVP Owen Koeppen has nine sacks for a loss of 49 yards to go with 97 total tackles.
Sioux Falls 24, St. Francis, Ind. 6
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Lorenzo Brown rushed for a touchdown and threw for two more to lead the University of Sioux Falls to a 24-6 win over St. Francis of Indiana Saturday in the NAIA semifinals.
Sioux Falls (13-0) turned in another great defensive effort, holding the nation’s No. 1 offense to just 115 yards. St. Francis (12-1) came in averaging 450 yards and just under 49 points per game.
Sioux Falls’ three playoff opponents have been held to 139, 150 and 115 yards. Sioux Falls rolled up 323 yards Saturday to notch their 36th consecutive home win.
Brown scored on a 3-yard run and threw second-quarter scoring passes of 9 yards to Jon Ryan and 35 yards to Scott LeBrun. Brown was 7-for-12 for 82 yards.
Sioux Falls’ bid for a record-tying eighth shutout ended on an option pass of 26 yards from Mickey Cassidy to Jared Clodfelter in the fourth quarter.
Erik Cimpl ran 27 times for 109 yards and Brown ran for 85 yards on 16 carries.
Jeff Wedding led St. Francis in rushing with 42 yards on 11 attempts. He also completed 10 of 29 passes for 84 yards.
Second-ranked Sioux Falls will take on top-ranked Carroll College in the NAIA championship game. The defending national champions held on to beat Lindenwood 38-37 in the other semifinal.
Division II Playoffs Minn.-Duluth 45, California, Pa. 7
CALIFORNIA, Pa. — Isaac Odim scored four touchdowns and ran for 126 yards to lead the University of Minnesota-Duluth to a 45-7 win over California, Pa., in the Division II semifinals.
Minn.-Duluth (14-0), the only undefeated team in the division, advanced to the national title game for the first time in program history.
The Bulldogs took a 17-0 lead at halftime after Odim’s first two TD runs and a 23-yard field goal by David Nadeau.
Odim scored twice more in the third quarter, on a 38-yard pass from Ted Schlafke and a 51-yard run.
AJ Jackson scored the only touchdown for the Vulcans, a 6-yard catch from Kevin McCabe, in the third quarter.
Brad Foss ran for 101 yards for Minn.-Duluth, including a 9-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Schlafke then threw a 4-yard pass to Tony Doherty a few minutes later to round out the scoring for the Bulldogs.
California, Pa. (12-2) committed four turnovers and ran for 56 yards.
The Bulldogs will play Northwest Missouri State for the title in Florence, Ala., on Dec. 13.