Football - Sat, Nov. 19, 2005
CHICAGO - A 32-yard field goal by freshman kicker Matt Lindgren with five seconds remaining in the game proved to be the difference as No. 4 ranked University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) pulled out a 31-28 victory over No. 7 Saint Xavier University in exciting first-round NAIA Championship Series football action Saturday at SXU Stadium in Chicago. SXU ends its impressive 2005 season with an overall record of 9-3, while USF improves to 10-1 overall and advances to next Saturday's (Nov. 26) quarterfinals game.

"When you lose a game like that, it is always tough," said Saint Xavier head football coach Mike Feminis. "We both deserved to advance, but unfortunately, that can't happen. We had the momentum, but some key turnovers took it away. Sometimes, you just have to give credit to the other guys. They (Sioux Falls) played a great game too and made the big plays they needed to down the stretch. Our team had a great season, but we want to get to a level, like Sioux Falls, where we make the playoffs every year."

Senior wide receiver Jarrod Nowman (Manteno, Ill./Bishop McNamara) put an exclamation point on a phenomenal career at Saint Xavier with a game-high 132 receiving yards on eight catches and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback John Perryman (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) was also solid on the day going 28-for-41 for 287 yards and four touchdowns (one rushing). Perryman also threw two interceptions and fumbled in the losing effort. Junior wideout Andy Ricca (LaPorte, Ind./Michigan City) was Perryman's favorite target on the day with the pair connecting on 12 catches for 93 yards. Senior linebacker Rick King (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) was tough on defense for the Cougars with a game-high 17 tackles.

Sioux Falls was led by junior tailback Michael Dvoracek, who finished with 37 carries for 199 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Joe Wright completed 15 of his 27 pass attempts for 224 yards and two scores, but was also sacked twice and threw an interception. Sophomore tight end Josiah Fenceroy paced the USF receiving corps with five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide receiver Mike Warren finished with two grabs for 60 yards and a score. Senior defensive back Justin Oswald had a big day on the defensive side of the ball for Sioux Falls finishing with four tackles, including two tackles for losses, an interception, and a fumble recovery returned 33 yards for a TD. Dvoracek and Oswald were named the NAIA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Game, respectively, following the game.

SXU dug itself an early 14-0 hole after Wright connected with Fenceroy for a 27-yard completion for a score with 2:59 left in the first quarter and then, on Saint Xavier's first play of the ensuing drive, Perryman fumbled and Oswald scooped up the ball and returned it 33 yards to the endzone. However, SXU clawed back and a one-yard keeper by Perryman with 12:07 left before halftime put SXU on the board, 14-7. Saint Xavier kept the pressure on scoring again less than four minutes later on an eight-yard catch by junior wideout Greg Gerritsen (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East). Then, with 27 seconds left in the half, Nowman broke free for a 33-yard touchdown reception to give SXU the advantage at halftime, 21-14.

In the third quarter, Dvoracek scored the only touchdown on a three-yard run to tie the game, 21-21, with 5:29 remaining. An eight-yard reception by Warren put Sioux Falls back on top, 28-21, with 9:27 to play in the game. However, SXU did not give up and, with 1:20 left in the game, Perryman connected with Nowman again on a 22-yard completion to tie the game, 28-28. Unfortunately for Saint Xavier, two big receptions by Sioux Falls in their final drive gave them a chance at a 32-yard field goal with five seconds left and Lindgren was able to boot it through for the win.