Sioux Falls, Lindenwood headed to NAIA title gameDefending national champion Sioux Falls rolled over St. Xavier 48-6 and Lindenwood beat Carroll College 42-35 in a Montana snowstorm Saturday in the NAIA semifinals.
Defending national champion Sioux Falls rolled over St. Xavier 48-6 and Lindenwood beat Carroll College 42-35 in a Montana snowstorm Saturday in the NAIA semifinals.
Sioux Falls (14-0) will take on Lindenwood (13-0) in the championship game Dec. 19 in Rome, Ga. It will be Sioux Falls’ fourth consecutive appearance in the title game, while Lindenwood will make its first trip.
“It’s really something special,” Sioux Falls senior safety Trevor Holleman said. “I’ve been blessed to get there four years in a row.”
Sioux Falls, which will be playing in its sixth championship game since the merger to one division in 1999, won titles in 2006 and 2008. It led St. Xavier 24-0 at the half and coasted to its 42nd straight home victory.
It wasn’t as easy for Lindenwood, which led most of the way but had to march 88 yards through the snow and wind in just over a minute to score the winning touchdown with 49 seconds left. Matt Bramow’s 10-yard TD catch from Philip Staback was the difference in snapping Carroll College’s 25-game home winning streak.
Lindenwood rolled up 568 yards of offense despite the weather.
“One of the exciting things is that we get to be underdogs again,” Lindenwood coach Patrick Ross said. “I told our team not to be happy to get there. We fell into that trap last year here.”
Carroll College, which had advanced to nine of the last 11 semifinals, beat the Lions 38-37 to reach the finals last season.
On Saturday, the temperature was 18 degrees at kickoff and the winds gusted to 22 mph. Despite that, Staback completed 25 of 35 passes for 374 yards and three TDs.
Denodus O’Bryant ran 20 times for 154 yards and scored on runs of 3 and 43 yards.
Next up are the Cougars.
Lindenwood will throw the NAIA’s top-ranked offense (57 points a game) against Sioux Falls’ stellar defense, which has allowed 10 points per game and held eight opponents to eight or fewer points.
“We have one goal right now, and that’s winning a 15th game, which has never happened in school history,” Sioux Falls coach Kalen DeBoer said.
Lorenzo Brown threw for three touchdowns and ran for another for the Cougars, who have won 28 straight games, including a win this season over NCAA Division I FCS member North Dakota. Brown passed for 204 yards and ran for 133 yards.
“I felt like we could move the ball, but I thought there would be more pressure on us to continue to score points,” DeBoer said.