Carroll wins NAIA title, beating Sioux Falls 10-7

Tom Yaremko hit the right upright in the first quarter and the

left upright in the second. Then with the NAIA title on the line,

the Carroll College kicker was dead on in the fourth quarter.

Yaremko made a 22-yard field goal with 7:47 left and the Montana

school snapped Sioux Falls’ record-tying 42-game winning streak

with a 10-7 victory Saturday.

”I just had to forget it,” Yaremko said about his misses from

21 and 38 yards. ”My teammates said they still had faith in

me.”

Sioux Falls had a chance to force overtime, but Braden Wieking’s

field goal try from 46 yards was wide left with 3.5 seconds

remaining.

It was the final game in the NAIA for the South Dakota school,

which is moving to NCAA Division II. The Cougars won the previous

two championships, beating Carroll 23-7 in 2008.

”They hate losing and so do I,” Sioux Falls first-year coach

Jed Stugart said. ”They didn’t want to go out like this.”

Carroll quarterback Gary Wagner, selected the offensive player

of the game, had an 83-yard TD run in the second quarter and was 12

of 21 passing for 107 yards for the Saints (14-0).

”I can’t even put into words how great I feel,” Wagner said.

”I’m just so happy to be a part of this team. These guys are my

family.”

Sioux Falls (13-1) and Carroll have combined to win nine

straight NAIA titles. Carroll won from 2002-2005 and again in 2007,

beating Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls won in 1996, 2006 and the past two

years.

Wagner broke Jordan Carlson’s tackle and outran the Sioux Falls

secondary with 8:47 left in the second quarter to put Carroll

ahead. Sioux Falls tied it with 3:02 left in the half on Jordan

Taylor’s 1-yard run that finished off a 63-yard, 11-play drive.

Ted Morigeau recovered Jon Eastman’s fumble midway through the

third quarter, but Carroll couldn’t take advantage of the game’s

only turnover. The Saints were able to mount a fourth-quarter

drive, though, and Yaremko hit the deciding field goal.

Sioux Falls got to the Carroll 31 after the field goal, but

Brian Strobel sacked Eastman on second down and two passes were

then incomplete.

Eastman completed three passes in the final minute after the

Cougars got the ball back, but Wieking missed the potential tying

field goal.

”He took it really hard,” Stugart said. ”But it shouldn’t

have come down to that.”

Sioux Falls was held to 35 yards rushing and Carroll had nearly

a 10-minute edge in time of possession.

”The score tells it all,” Carroll coach Mike Van Diest said.

”We knew it was going to be a great battle.”

Sioux Falls’ 42-game winning streak tied the NAIA record set by

Texas A&I – now Texas A&M-Kingsville – in the 1970s. The

Cougars were 55-2 the last four seasons, the only other loss to

Carroll in the 2007 title game.

Sioux Falls linebacker Eric Anderson, who was in on 17 tackles,

was the defensive player of the game.

”I’d trade the award in a heartbeat for a national

championship,” Anderson said.