Football - Sat, Nov. 10, 2007
Fort Wayne, Ind. - Although the score was slightly different, the 29-point defeat remained the same. Falling 42-13 Saturday to No. 5 ranked University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in Fort Wayne, Ind., the No. 6 Saint Xavier University football team was unable to find its typical rhythm on offense and struggled to keep the opposition out of the end zone in a game strangely reminiscent of last year's 49-20 postseason loss to USF at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium in Fort Wayne. The Cougars (9-2 overall/5-2 MSFA) hung tough in the first quarter keeping USF off the scoreboard and taking an early 3-0 lead. However, Saint Francis scored 14 points in each of the next three quarters to pull away and take the victory in both team's regular-season finale.
Junior quarterback Billy Yeo (Matteson, Ill./Western Michigan/Rich South) finished the game 21-for-39 for 212 yards and had one interception. Yeo also rushed four times for 32 yards to lead the SXU ground attack. Junior running back Jason Banning (Wilmington, Ill./Northern Illinois/Wilmington) scored the Cougars' lone touchdown in the game on a one-yard run and finished with seven rushing yards on five carries. Senior Jim Doherty (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) led the Saint Xavier receivers with five catches for 44 yards, while senior kicker/punter Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) hit two of his three field goal attempts (44, 37) in the game. Defensively, senior linebacker Sean Kenney (Orland Park, Ill./Stagg) and junior linebacker Joe Miller (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech) each finished with 20 total tackles.
In the first quarter, the Saint Xavier defense came to play posting a turnover on downs, a fumble recovery, an interception, and two sacks to help keep USF off the scoreboard. However, despite the big plays on defense, the Cougar offense was limited to just three points on its four drives of the quarter, a 44-yard field goal by Longest at the 8:19 mark. Early in the second quarter, Saint Francis was able to take the lead for good on a 15-yard touchdown pass by junior quarterback Jeff Wedding to sophomore running back Daniel Carter. After a three-and-out for the SXU offense, the defense helped give them the ball back with a big sack by junior defensive end Kevin Wiersema (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) on a USF fourth-and-goal attempt from the SXU three-yard line. However, a Saint Xavier fumble at their own 23-yard line seemed to shift the momentum back to Saint Francis and the Cougars were never really able to recover.
Following the turnover, USF took advantage of the short field and scored its second touchdown of the game on a one-yard keeper by Wedding to take a 14-3 lead with 1:35 remaining in the first half. Saint Xavier's offense marched down the field quickly and got into Longest's range to end the half with a 37-yard field goal to make the score, 14-6, at the break. Unfortunately for the Cougars, USF pulled away in the second half scoring 14 points in the first 11 minutes to take a 28-6 lead before Banning was able to punch into the end zone from one yard out to cut the lead to 15, 28-13, with 1:22 left in the third quarter. It would prove to be the last score for Saint Xavier, however, with Saint Francis posting two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
SXU (9-2 overall/5-2 MSFA) now awaits an at-large bid for the 16-team 2007 NAIA Championship Series, which begins on Saturday, November 17. The Cougars will find out their postseason seed and pairing for the first round on Sunday, November 11, at 12 p.m. central time.