Marian wins NAIA title, beating Morningside in OT
Michael Josifovski and the Marian Knights spoiled Morningside’s
Josifovski hit a 35-yard field goal on the final play of
regulation to force overtime and hit a 26-yarder in the extra
session to give Marian (Ind.) a 30-27 victory in the championship
game Thursday night.
”I’m disappointed,” Morningside coach Ted Ryan said. ”We made
some plays down the end to give ourselves a chance to win. I
thought we were going to do it. It just didn’t happen.”
Marian (12-1) won its first national title in only its sixth
season of football, while Morningside (13-1) fell short in the Iowa
school’s first title game and ninth straight trip to playoffs.
In the semifinals, Josifovski made a 51-yard field goal on the
final play for a 20-17 victory over Missouri Valley College.
”He’s got a great leg. We call him `Megafoot,”’ said Marian
coach Ted Karras Jr., who had Josifovski kick the winner on third
Adam Wiese was 25 of 39 for 233 yards and a touchdown for the
Knights, and Tevin Lake rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on
Joel Nixon was 22 of 39 for 228 yards and two touchdowns for
Morningside, and Fred Jones ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on
18 carries. Nixon also threw two interceptions and lost a
”The turnovers made a difference, the kicking game made a
difference,” Ryan said.
Morningside, which had missed an extra point, passed up a
field-goal chance on the first possession in overtime, and Marian’s
Danny Rojas broke up Nixon’s fourth-and-3 pass to Joel McCabe.
Josifovski made the Mustangs pay, booting the overtime winner on
”It’s an incredible feeling,” said the senior. ”You can’t
write this stuff. I couldn’t have ever imagined it would end like
this. Growing up you hope that you have a chance to play in a game
Nixon threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Schuck with 1:04
left to put the Mustangs back on top at 27-24, but Marian marched
back down the field to set up Josifovski for the tying 35-yard
field goal that forced for the first overtime in the history of the
Marian rallied to take a 24-20 lead on Wiese’s 61-yard touchdown
pass to Nathan Jones with 2:46 remaining.
Ryan Harnett’s interception in the end zone for Marian killed
what might have been a clinching TD drive for Morningside in the
fourth quarter. The Knights then drove 73 yards to cut
Morningside’s lead to three on Lake’s 4-yard run with 7:33
We were up 20-10, we had that drive, we needed to stick it in
the end zone,” Ryan said. ”They intercepted the ball, they got a
little runback, they got the penalty and they just got life out of
that. We had a chance right there to kind of put it away.”
Morningside drove 78 yards in 13 plays to open the second half,
with Jones scoring from a yard out. But the Mustangs missed the
extra point – and that proved to be significant.
”We fought as hard as I thought we could,” Nixon said. ”I
don’t think there was one person that went into that lockerroom
that didn’t give it all on the field.
”With it being so close, you’ve got the what-ifs. But you know
what, Marian made the plays down the stretch. They’re the deserving
team. They got the trophy. They made the plays when they needed
Morningside led 14-10 at halftime despite two turnovers that
turned into points for Marian. Nixon’s fumble deep in his own
territory after a scramble set up touchdown for the Knights and
they added a field goal after an interception near midfield.
After Jones scored from 9 yards out to cap a 70-yard drive on
Morningside’s first possession, Marian got the TD back when Robert
Palmer forced a fumble as Nixon tried to avoid a sack and Billy
Baker recovered at the 6. Lake ran it in on the next play.
A wild scramble by Nixon paid off for Morningside late in the
first quarter when he was able to find McCabe at the back of the
end zone on a fourth-down play from the 6 to cap another 70-yard
march. Nixon went right, then all the way back across the field to
the left before spotting his receiver.
Marian cut into the lead after Nixon’s pass was picked off by
Palmer at the Knights 43 midway in the second quarter. Josifovski,
who had missed from 54 yards early in the quarter, connected on a
36-yarder with 3:55 left before halftime.
”We have guys that don’t quit,” Karras said. ”We’re true
believers and we’re pioneers. We started six years ago. We recruit
guys that are hungry to play with a never-say-die attitude. They’re
quality guys, they take care of business. Last week we did it like
this, this week we did it like this. A lot of people probably
counted us out with that minute left but we came right back down
and tied it up. Couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”