Marian wins NAIA football title in OT
Michael Josifovski made 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 over Morningside (Iowa) in the NAIA championship game Thursday night.
Marian (12-1) won its first national title in only its sixth season of football. In the semifinals, Josifovski made a 51-yard field goal on the final play for a 20-17 victory over Missouri Valley College.
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 23 carries.
Joel Nixon was 22 of 39 for 228 yards and two touchdowns for Morningside (13-1), and Fred Jones ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Nixon also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Morningside 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.
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 championship.
Marian rallied it 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 remaining.
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.
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.