St. Francis battles elements, defeat Benedictine, 26-21

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Mother Nature would win at first, as No. 1 Saint Francis and No. 15 Benedictine College (KS) waited six hours after a lightining delay pushed kickoff to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Despite the awful weather, including heavy rains and a howling win, Saint Francis would win, 26-21, and advance to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series.

The Cougars, (11-0) would strike first on a Justin Green 1-yard touchdown run. The extra-point was blocked and USF held an early 6-0 advantage.

The USF defense limited opportunities for the Ravens offense until the final four minutes of the second quarter. Quick scores by Benedictine gave them a 14-6 advantage at halftime.

Green took the second half opening kickoff 84-yards to the end zone. USF quarterback Nick Ferrer would hit Sean Boswell for a two points to tie the game at 14.

On the next possession, Ferrer would hit Dan Ricksy for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The extra point failed after a bad snap, but USF led 20-14.

Zach Gegner would catch Ferrer’s second touchdown pass of the game in the fourth quarter to put the Cougars up 26-14.

Benedictine would get a score in the fourth quarter but fell short of a comeback after turning the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter.

Ferrer finished the night 22-for-31, 236 yards passing, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Green finished with 171-yards rushing on 34 attempts and one touchdown.

USF on offense totaled 398 yards on offense, They turned the ball over twice on two fumbles.

The victory is the Cougars 21st straight win and 14th straight playoff opening round win.

No. 1 Saint Francis will host Northwestern (Iowa) Saturday.

NOTES

  • The game pitted the NAIA’s all-time winningest coaches. USF Head Coach Kevin Donnelly is tops with 313 wins. Benedictine’s Head Coach Larry Wilcox is second with 277.
  • Saint Francis has never lost a home playoff game in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series (13-0)
  • Baker (KS), who Saint Francis defeated in the 2016 NAIA Football National Championship, lost its first round game to Georgetown (Ky), 36-33
  • Saturday’s game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools
  • The win leaves Coach Donley one win shy of 200 at St. Francis