St. Xavier wins NAIA title, beating Carroll 24-20
St. Xavier only began playing football in 1993 and had lost in
the NAIA semifinals three of the past four years. Once the Chicago
school made the title game, the Cougars were determined not to let
a chance for their first championship slip away.
”This is the greatest feeling in the world,” coach Mike
Feminis said. ”We worked awfully hard for this.”
Jimmy Coy accounted for 294 yards and two touchdowns, Mark
Williams knocked down a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 2
minutes left and St. Xavier held off defending champion Carroll
College 24-20 on Saturday.
Coy, a transfer from NCAA Division II Valdosta State, completed
28 of 43 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 78 yards
and a score on 16 carries. He was selected the offensive player of
”It’s special to bring this home to Chicago,” Coy said. ”This
means so much to the players who have been here four or five years.
I’m just glad that I could be a part of it.”
The loss kept Carroll (13-2) from a seventh title, which would
have tied the NAIA record. The Montana school was playing in the
championship game for the eighth time in 10 years.
Jared Mayernik returned the second-half kickoff 94 yards to give
Carroll its only lead. But the Saints missed the extra point and
St. Xavier drove 67 yards to go back ahead on K.J. Franklin’s
4-yard run early in the third quarter.
St. Xavier couldn’t take advantage of a bad punt snap, with Tom
Lynch missing a 20-yard field goal attempt midway in the third
quarter and it looked as if that might be costly when Carroll drove
from its 18 to the St. Xavier 9 late in the fourth quarter. But
Dane Broadhead couldn’t connect on four pass attempts, the last one
batted down by freshman Williams just before it got to Anthony
”I was able to reach around and get one hand on it,” Williams
said. ”It was close to pass interference, but I didn’t hit
Broadhead, who had just missed on the first three passes, had to
scramble on fourth down and try to pick out a secondary
”Their D-line got good pressure and I didn’t get to see the
play like I’d have liked to,” Broadhead said. ”I just had to try
to find someone the best that I could.”
St. Xavier linebacker Patrick Appino was selected the defensive
player of the game as the Cougars held Carroll’s Chance Demarais,
the NAIA player of the year, to 57 yards on 21 carries.
”We played with more heart than they did,” Appino said. ”We
wanted it more.”
”Their defense said that they were going to stop the run and
they were able to do that,” Demarais said. ”They were fast and
played very hard.”
St. Xavier’s defense was very fast as well, the no-huddle spread
attack directed by Coy jumping on Carroll in the first quarter to
go up by 10 points early.
Once Carroll went to a four-man front, the Saints were better
able to slow St. Xavier down.
”I should have done it early,” Carroll coach Mike Van Diest
said. ”My mistake for that.”
Carroll came in having given up just 17 points in three playoffs
victories, but St. Xavier matched that it the first half while
amassing 224 yards and taking a three-point lead.
Coy, who completed his first nine throws, was 18 of 26 passing
for 113 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and also had 62
yards rushing and a score.
After settling for a 20-yard field goal from Lynch to cap an
81-yard march following the opening kickoff, St. Xavier marched 95
yards the next time it got the ball and went up 10-0 on Coy’s
Tom Yaremko missed on 42-yard field-goal attempt for Carroll
early in the second quarter, but the Saints drove 62 yards the next
time they had the ball and cut into the lead on Broadhead’s 20-yard
TD pass to Matt Ritter with 5:17 left in the half.
After a 43-yard kickoff return by Wes Gastel, St. Xavier pushed
its lead back to 10 points on Coy’s 11-yard TD pass to Shane
Zackery with 1:22 left in the second quarter. But Carroll quickly
struck back, making it 17-14 on Broadhead’s 26-yard throw to
Anthony Clarke with 43 seconds left in the half. The Saints went 57
yards in just four plays.
But Broadhead, who finished 20 of 31 for 223 yards, couldn’t
connect when it counted in the closing minutes. Ritter, who had 11
catches for 117 yards, was the target on the first throw and Lat
Wipplinger on the next two.
St. Xavier had to withstand a late pass into the end zone in its
30-27 victory over Marian in the semifinals. Against Carroll, the
Cougars escaped again.
”I don’t have any fingernails left,” St. Xavier coach Feminis