Sunday, December 21, 2003

Back-to-back: Saints polish off perfect season
December 21, 2003

By TOM COTTON - IR Sports Editor - 12/21/03

SAVANNAH, Tenn. — The Carroll College football team emphatically made it two-for-two in Tennessee.

The Saints claimed their second straight NAIA national football title Saturday afternoon with a 41-28 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State at Jim Carroll Stadium in front of 5,189 fans. It is the second national football title in school history.

"It's indescribable," said junior linebacker Mike Maddox. "I wanted nothing more for these seniors than to come out with a win. "I love those guys like brothers."

While the Carroll seniors were sent off in the best way possible, it was a sophomore who stole the show.

Tyler Emmert, who claimed the NAIA national player of the year Friday night, looked every bit the part, particularly in the first half.

"Emmert to (Mark) Gallik was just awesome," Carroll coach Mike Van Diest said.

The quarterback put the Rangers "Black Cloud Defense" in a fog, completing 26-of-37 passes for 344 yards in the game. He was also named the contest's offensive MVP.

Following the contest, the modest quarterback gave credit to his protection up front.

"We asked the offensive line to step up and get after it," he said. "I think what was most impressive was when they knew we were going to run, we lined up in two tight end sets and just pounded salt."

Gallik was his favorite target, catching 13 passes for 250 yards. He finished with three touchdown passes.

"He got so open a couple of times, it was almost hard to throw the ball to him," Emmert said.

While Emmert and Gallik were nearly perfect, Northwestern was not. Mental mistakes and turnovers plagued the Rangers all game long.

The Saints defense reduced the Rangers all-purpose quarterback Patrick Crayton to just using his legs. He rushed for 179 yards in the game, including 120 yards in the first half. He also had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Crayton's arm, however, failed him as he threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball three times. The Saints recovered one.

"We knew we had to contain him and if we couldn't contain him, we would have to force turnovers," Maddox said.

Early on, Northwestern put the Saints in unfamiliar position of being behind after a 2-yard run by Wes Scott on fourth-and-goal. That gave Northwestern a 7-3 lead, which was the first time Carroll had been behind since it trailed the University of Montana-Western on Oct. 11.

Then the Saints fumbled the ball on their next possession to give the Rangers the ball inside Carroll territory.

Jared Wirt made sure the Rangers didn't extend their lead. The Saints' defensive back picked off Crayton in the end zone for the first interception of the game.

Van Diest said that may have been the play of the game.

"He just threw the ball deep and I turned around at the right minute and it fell right into my lap," Wirt said

The Saints then went on a 80-yard drive that ended when Emmert ran a bootleg in from 3 yards out to give the Saints a 10-7 advantage. Emmert's run was set up by a play from last year's playoff MVP. Backup quarterback Robb Latrielle lined up at halfback and threw a pass to Gallik who made a leaping catch over two Ranger defenders to put the Saints on the 3-yard line.

That drive was the first of two long touchdown drives of the half for Carroll, as the Saints uncorked another 80-yard drive midway through the quarter.

Emmert accounted for all, but one yard on the drive and he completed an 11-yard pass to Gallik for his second touchdown of the half.

After that score, the game slipped away from the Rangers. They were able to mount a drive in the waning moments of the half and were on the Saints' 10-yard line, before poor clock management proved to be their undoing.

With 13.9 seconds left in the half, Mike Tyson bulled his way into the line for a small gain, but with no timeouts left, the clock ran out and ended the threat.

‘‘If he doesn't fall, there was a big hole there and he just walks it in,'' Crayton told The Associated Press. ‘‘Unfortunately, he just tripped. It was a momentum stopper.''

A score there wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game.

Crayton was stripped by Jeff Pasha setting up the Saints on the 37-yard line. Emmert completed four straight passes on the short drive and hit Mark Gallik for a 25-yard touchdown. Gallik was wide open thanks to NWOSU cornerback Arnie McPhee falling down on the play.

On the next series, defensive MVP Brett Bermingham picked off Crayton and went untouched for 33 yards to give Carroll 31-7 lead and ensure the national title.

"The secondary does a great job all the time. They are a tremendous bunch," Van Diest said.

Gallik had one more touchdown reception in the contest, a 58-yard grab in the third quarter.

The Saints have now outscored their opponents 69-35 in their last two championship games. Carroll now matches the feat by Georgetown, Ky., which repeated as champions in 2000 and 2001.

The Saints finished the season at 15-0 and have a 19-game winning streak. Time to start talking three-peat?

"We have a great group of guys coming back," said Maddox, "so I don't see why we can't."

SJU Wins NCAA Division III Football National Championship
AP Sports Writer

SALEM, Va. (AP) -- John Gagliardi's record-breaking season ended perfectly, too, with St. John's as the Division III national champion.

The Johnnies snapped Mount Union's NCAA-record 55-game winning streak with a 24-6 victory Saturday in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, giving their 77-year-old coach his first national championship since 1976.

"Maybe it's my year," Gagliardi said after winning his fourth national championship in 55 years as a coach, 51 at St. John's.

"You can't hardly beat it," he said. "The thing about these playoffs is only one team wins it all, and we've been losing a ton of times to the eventual champion. It's going to be kind of nice to see how this is."

Gagliardi passed Eddie Robinson as the career victories leader among college coaches earlier this season, and improved to 414-114-11 overall.

Mount Union (13-1) had won three consecutive Stagg Bowls and 109 of its last 110 games. But St. John's intercepted four passes, returning one 100 yards for a score, and got big contributions from most valuable player Blake Elliott to deprive Purple Raiders of an eighth national title in 11 years.

"They've been the king of the hill for a long time," Elliott said after rushing for 110 yards, including a 51-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. "They've been pushing teams off and throwing teams off, but we got them today.

"All it took was 52 guys believing."

Elliott, the winner of the Gagliardi Trophy as the best player in Division III, also caught five passes for 51 yards and had a 27-yard kickoff return despite playing with a tight hamstring injured last week.

His TD run gave St. John's a 17-6 lead with 13:34 left. The Johnnies all but clinched the victory less than five minutes later on Mike Zauhar's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, the game's final score.

"The play of their defense was the key," Mount Union coach Larry Kehres said. "I think they really had control of us most of the time."

Mount Union gained 286 yards, just over half its 542-yard average, and was stopped twice from the 1 right before Zauhar's interception.

St. John's, forcing Mount Union to play from behind in the second half for only the third time in its last 56 games, had three of its four interceptions in the second half to cap it's perfect season at 14-0.

"Our defense is always trying to make a statement," linebacker Cameron McCambridge said. "We often get overshadowed, but there was definitely something to prove. Today we proved Mount Union is not invincible."

The crowd of 5,073 on a frigid day at Salem Stadium including three chartered planes of fans from Minnesota. St. John's was founded in Collegeville, Minn., by Benedictine monks in 1857.

By halftime, they saw the trip could prove most memorable.

St. John's, which lost 10-7 to Mount Union in the 2000 Stagg Bowl, took a 7-6 lead on the last play of the first half when Jake Theis took a lateral from Ryan Keating down the left sideline for a 14-yard score, breaking several tackles and diving to get the ball into the end zone.

"It showed them that we could score on them," Keating said.

Kehres, whose team had only trailed at halftime twice in its 55-game winning streak, downplayed the play's affect on the Purple Raiders. "I don't think it broke our spirit, but I'm sure it lifted theirs," he said.

The Johnnies became the first team to score a second-quarter touchdown this season against Mount Union, which had outscored its opponents 249-6.

Brandon Keller's 22-yard field goal in the third quarter pushed the lead to 10-6, and Elliott and Zauhar provided the closing clinchers.

The Purple Raiders, held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season, broke through on the first play of the second quarter.

Rick Ciccone's 1-yard run capped a 74-yard drive highlighted three plays earlier by Burghardt's 16-yard pass to John Healy over the middle on third-and-15 from the Johnnies 19. The extra point was blocked.

Mount Union's only other threat ended with Zauhar's interception.

Gagliardi said afterward that he's not ready to ride off into the sunset just yet -- "I don't even know where the sunset is," he said -- and that his latest championship ranks among the best of his career.

"Right up there with when I win the lottery," he said.

GVSU Claims National Championship With 10-3 Victory Over North Dakota
Lakers Win Back-to-Back NCAA Football Championships

Cullen Finnerty rushed for 78 yards and completed 19-of-29 passes for 149 yards.

Dec. 13, 2003

Florence, Ala. - Grand Valley State captured its second straight NCAA Division II Football National Championship Saturday (Dec. 13) with a 10-3 victory over the University of North Dakota at Braly Municipal Stadium. Grand Valley State, which captured the 2002 NCAA title with a 31-24 victory over Valdosta State, becomes just the seventh team to win back-to-back titles. Senior linebacker Mike Hoad sealed the victory when he picked off UND quarterback John Bowenkamp at the Grand Valley State five yard line with 20 seconds left in the game. The loss also avenged a 17-14 loss to North Dakota in the 2001 title game when UND scored with 29 seconds left in the game.

Grand Valley State opened the game with a 17-play, 79-yard drive that culminated with a David Hendrix 19-yard field goal. The drive consumed 7:28 of the first quarter. Freshman quarterback Cullen Finnerty completed 6-of-8 passes for 47 yards on the drive en route to the field goal. The Laker defense, which held three straight playoff teams without a TD (12 straight quarters), stopped a North Dakota scoring opportunity late in the first quarter when the Fighting Sioux recovered a Laker fumble at the GVSU 47 yard line. UND drove 18 yards to the GVSU 29 yard line, but Jeff Glas was wide left with a 29-yard field goal attempt. GVSU drove inside the North Dakota 30 yard line on two occasions in the second quarter, but failed on two fourth down opportunities. GVSU dominated the opening two quarters, outgaining UND 197-60 in total offense. GVSU held the ball for 19:41 compared to UND's 10:19 and held North Dakota to -2 yards rushing and just two first downs in the opening 30 minutes.

North Dakota's best scoring opportunity for a TD in the game came on its first drive of the second half when the Fighting Sioux drove to the GVSU six yard line. UND faced a third and goal when outside linebacker Lucius Hawkins blitzed and forced a Bowenkamp fumble that he then picked up and raced 59 yards to the North Dakota 20 yard line. Finnerty rushed 18 yards to the Fighting Sioux two on first downand then Michael Tennessee scored from two yards out on third down to give GVSU a 10-0 lead.

UND drove 64 yards to the GVSU 26-yard line on its next possession, but all-american defensive tackle Keyonta Marshall blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Glas and the Lakers took over on its own 26. Laker punter Matt Regnery pinned UND on its own 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but the Fighting Sioux 67-yards in 14 plays and finally got on the board with a Glas 35-yard field goal. The Lakers could have sealed the victory on its next drive, driving 50 yards in 10 plays to the Fighting Sioux 25 yard line. However, AFCA First-Team All-American place kicker David Hendrix was short on a 43-yard attempt and UND had one last chance. North Dakota drove 58 yards in 12 plays prior to Hoad's game-winning interception.

Cullen Finnerty rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries, while completing 19-of-29 passes for 149 yards. Micah Staley, Mario Locricchio and Michael Tennessee each caught four passes. Michael Tennessee rushed for 38 yards and one TD on 12 carries. Scott Mackey led the defense with 12 tackles. William Gray added 12 tackles and Lucius Hawkins notched seven and returned a fumble 59 yards.

Post-game Quotes... Head Coach Brian Kelly "We played great competition and had to play at our very best again, and I give North Dakota a great deal of credit. But our defense has answered the bell the last three weeks and did not allow a touchdown in 12 consecutive quarters of playoff competition."

"Last year we here because of our offense, this year we're here because of our defense. This game can be won in many different ways and we won it today playing great defense and not making mistakes on offense."

Mike Hoad on his game-clinching interception - "I was just dropping; looking for a dig and I saw they were running that dig. He just came across and I came under him and the QB threw it right to me."

Game Notes...The 2003 NCAA title game was the second lowest scoring game ever. The lowest was a 3-0 win by Mississippi College over Jacksonville State in 1989....The GVSU rushing defense held North Dakota to just 22 yards rushing, the lowest rushing total in a title game since UC Davis gained just 18 yards versus Southwest Texas State in 1982...The Laker defense held three straight playoff opponents without a TD. Saginaw Valley State, Texas A&M-Kingsville and North Dakota were held to field goals...Grand Valley State has won eight straight NCAA DII Playoff games and 11 of its last 12...GVSU is 47-2 in its last 49 games...GVSU is the first NCAA DII playoff team to win four straight road games en rout to an NCAA Championship. Northern Colorado accomplished the feat in 1997...The 2003 Grand Valley State senior class concluded their careers with a 48-6 four-year record...The GVSU defense held 11 of 15 opponents to 100 yards rushing or less...GVSU has picked off 74 passes in its last 43 games...GVSU held five opponents without a TD in 2003 (UC Davis, Saginaw Valley State, Texas A&M-Kingsville and North Dakota...Grand Valley State is a plus 21 in turnovers in the last eight games...The victory over North Dakota was the 240th in Laker football history...Grand Valley State's final mileage total for the 2003 season was 13,373 miles and 10 road games...

#3 Delaware 40, #6 Colgate 0
NCAA I-AA Championship • December 19, 2003
Defense Dominates as Blue Hens Capture First National Championship Since 1979

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- The University of Delaware football team is back on top again.
Using a punishing defense that held Colgate to just 157 total yards and posted its first road shutout since 1982, the Blue Hens captured their sixth national championship Friday night with a dominating 40-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Raiders in the NCAA I-AA championship game at Finley Stadium.

All-American quarterback Andy Hall threw two touchdown passes to sophomore David Boler (#6 at right) and senior running backs Antawn Jenkins and Germaine Bennett each scored twice on the ground as Delaware (15-1) highlighted the most successful season in school history with its first national title since winning the NCAA II crown in 1979. It was Delaware's first national title at the I-AA level.

"Winning a national championship is a very difficult thing, so many things need into place," said second year Delaware head coach K. C. Keeler, who was a starting linebacker for the Hens' previous championship team in 1979. "This time it all came into place. I recognize how special this is. It's special to to bring the glory back to the greatest I-AA tradition in the country."

The Blue Hens continued their dominance in the post-season as they outscored their four opponents 149-23 and posted the first-ever shutout in the I-AA championship game. The Hens' posted their first shutout on the road since downing Louisiana Tech 17-0 in the NCAA I-AA semifinals in 1982, a span of 113 games. During the Hens' four-game playoff run, they outscored opponents 60-0 in the first quarter and never trailed.

Colgate (15-1), which was appearing in its first championship game, had a 21-game win streak snapped. The Raiders managed to cross midfield just three times and never got closer than the Blue Hen 20-yard line. Running back Jamaal Branch, the Walter Payton Award winner and the all-time leading single season rusher in I-AA history, was held to just 55 yards on 20 carries. Colgate quarterback Chris Brown completed just 9 of 21 passes for 94 yards.

Hall, a second-year transfer from Georgia Tech, completed 12 of 20 passes for 183 yards and two scores, both to Boler, who caught a five-yard toss on the first play of the second half to up the lead to 20-0 and caught a nine-yarder midway through the third quarter to up the lead to 27-0. Bennett's one-yard dive with 2:52 left in the third quarter and Jenkins' two-yard dive with 12:22 left were icing on the cake.

Delaware piled up 348 total yards as Bennett, who set a UD single season record with 1,625 yards, rushed for 60 yards and Jenkins added 53 yards. Defensively, the Hens posted seven tackles for loss, including three sacks.

"I tip my hat to our coaching staff and the great job they did," said senior safety and co-captain Mike Adams, who posted a team-high nine tackles and broke up a pass. "This win is going to be talked about for hundreds of years. To go out on top with the people you have bled and sweated with, there's nothing better."

The theme of Delaware's playoff run has been score early, and score often. In its first three playoff games, Delaware had outscored its opponents 47-0 in the first quarter and 54-10 in the first half. More of that came against Colgate.

Delaware drove to midfield on its opening possession before punting. After Colgate failed to sustain a drive, Sidney Haugabrook returned the punt 19 yards to the Colgate 40. The Delaware offense took over from there, driving down the field on the arm of Hall.

Hall accounted for 37 yards in the air, connecting on passes to Boler and Justin Long, the latter to Long, a 17-yarder after a brilliant scramble by Hall, placed the ball at the 3. The 60 yard, eight-play drive culminated in Jenkins' three-yard touchdown run. Brad Shushman converted the PAT and Delaware had a 7-0 lead with 7:29 to play in the first quarter.

Delaware forced a punt again on Colgate's next possession after the Raiders moved the chains once. This time, though, Haugabrook didn't get a chance to return the punt as a one-bounce snap resulted in a bad punt. The kick went just five yards, giving Delaware the ball at the Colgate 34.

On the first play, Hall found Boler for 22 yards down to the Colgate 12. After Hall was tackled for a three-yard loss on first down, he got loss on second down for 13 yards to set up first-and-goal. On first down, Bennett was stopped at the one-foot line, but on second down, he snuck around the right side for the touchdown. Shushman's PAT hit the left upright and the scored stayed at 13-0.

On the first play of Colgate's next series, the assault continued. Delaware's Dominic Santoli hit quarterback Brown, knocking the ball loose. The Blue Hens' Tom Parks jumped on the loose ball, giving Delaware the ball at Colgate 18.

Two plays later, Hall rushed down the right sideline for 14 yards, giving Delaware first-and-goal at the Raiders' 4. After two running plays were stuffed, Hall found Boler on a quick slant for a five-yard touchdown. Shushman's PAT gave Delaware a 20-0 lead.

Colgate drove back down the field on its next possession. The Raiders got down to the Delaware 20 after a nine-yard run by Branch, which would be Colgate's deepest drive in the first three quarters. However, on fourth-and-two from the 20, Delaware's Adams knocked a potential first down completion away from tight end John Freiser to end the threat.

"We are a very physical team and once we get rolling, things can snowball," said Keeler, who won his first national title as a head coach after losing five times in the NCAA III championship game as head coach at Rowan University. "We played that way tonight. This is a great win for the University of Delaware and very rewarding. We gave a group of special kids the opportunity to get that ring and they did it."