Davenport, Iowa – Seven turnovers (all fumbles) and an early 28-0 deficit made things extremely difficult for the No. 14 ranked Saint Xavier University football team in a 65-30 road loss to No. 13 Saint Ambrose University (Iowa) in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League action Saturday at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport, Iowa. The loss ends a two-game win streak by the Cougars (5-4 overall/2-2 MSFA) and severely hurts their chances at a postseason berth in the 2013 NAIA Football Championship Series. Two of the top playmakers for Saint Xavier Saturday were senior running back Nick Pesek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) with 52 rushing yards and two touchdowns and senior linebacker Dave Marciano (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) with a game-leading 15 tackles, including 14 solo stops.
The seven fumbles were the most given up by the Cougars in the history of the program, while the 65 points was the second most points allowed by Saint Xavier in a game. The most points allowed in a game in SXU football history was 70 in a 70-8 loss to University of Findlay (Ohio) on November 1, 1997. The turnovers were costly; especially early in the ballgame, as the Fighting Bees built a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter with three of their drives started due to Cougar fumbles. Saint Xavier gained some momentum late in the second quarter scoring 21 unanswered points on a six-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Austin Feeney (Morris, Ill./Morris) and a pair of rushing touchdowns by Pesek. However, Saint Ambrose took the momentum back midway through the third quarter with 17 straight points to pull away for the victory.
Early in the fourth quarter, junior wide receiver Nick DeBenedetti (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback John Rhode (Chicago Heights, Ill./Montini Catholic) and senior kicker/punter Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./Nevada/UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) converted on a 27-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 45-30. The Fighting Bees dashed any chance at a late rally attempt by the Cougars with three more touchdowns in the final eight minutes.
Rhode finished the game 19-for-36 on his pass attempts for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Pesek and freshman Aaron Dye (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) were his top targets each with four receptions. Dye led all SXU receivers with 59 yards through the air. Junior running back Khary Ferguson (Indianapolis, Ind./Thomas More College/Cardinal Ritter) was the Cougars' top rusher with seven carries for 53 yards. SXU totaled 324 yards of total offense in Saturday's game compared to 551 yards for Saint Ambrose.
Saint Xavier (5-4 overall/2-2 MSFA) returns home and hosts Trinity International University (Ill.) for a MSFA Midwest League game on Saturday, November 9. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. Prior to the game, the SXU football team will honor its senior class as the last regular season home game of the 2013 season.