Northwestern Falls In 1st Round of NAIA Football Championship
|1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter|
In their first-ever meeting, the No. 9 Cougars of Saint Xavier University (IL)�� upset the No. 8 Northwestern College Red Raiders (IA) in the NAIA Football Championship Series on Saturday afternoon in Orange City on the Red Raiders home field.
Initially, the Red Raiders held their own in what proved to be a defensive battle with the Cougars. At the 2:56 mark of the 1st quarter, the Raiders managed to strike first with a 44-yard field goal from Junior Braxton Williams.
Early in the 2nd quarter, the Cougars answer in a big way with Senior Alex Martinez running in his own touchdown to take the lead. The Raiders attempted a touchdown of their own but settled for a 23-yard field goal from Willams to inch within one making it 7-6. With almost a minute to go in the half, Cougars Sophmore Kicker Mike Iturbe then answered with his own 28-yard field goal to give the Cougars to a 10-6 lead heading into the locker room.
Hungry for a comeback, Red Raiders started the 2nd half action with a huge 43-yard touchdown pass Junior Quarterback Tyson Kooima to Junior Wide Reciever Shane Solberg. Kooima's big-time play enabled the Red Raiders to take a 13-10 lead. However, the Cougars managed to score 6 unanswered points to close out the 3rd with a 16-13 lead. Cougar's Sophomore Kicker Kyle Hassert subbing for injured Iturbe was able to send two more field goals through the uprights at 23-yards and 26-yards, respectively.
The Cougars opened the 4th quarter with yet another successful touchdown drive widening their lead to 22-13 over the Red Raiders. However, Kooima responded with a four-play drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Sophomore Cade Moser, leaving the Red Raiders trailing by only 2 at 22-20 with 12:56 remaining in the game.
The Cougar defense really turned it on throughout the remainder of the 4th quarter forcing multiple turnovers, including an interception on the Red Raiders' last possession of the game. A 25-yard field goal from Hassert at the 4:40 mark sealed the victory for the Cougars with a final score of 25-20.
Highlights for Northwestern's Red Raiders include Kooima 200 passing yards, Senior Jacob Kalgonia 37 yard rushing, and Solberg 121 receiving yards.
Red Raiders' season ends with a 9-2 overall record, finishing 2nd in the GPAC behind No. 1 Morningside College (IA). Morningside College will be Saint Xavier's opponent on Saturday, November 30th in the Quarterfinal round of the NAIA FCS. This will be the Cougars' third straight appearance in the NAIA FCS Quarterfinal round. The Cougars will face Morningside on their home turf in Sioux City, Iowa. Kick-off is scheduled for noon on Saturday.