Football - Sat, Oct. 22, 2005
CHICAGO - A 25-yard touchdown catch by sophomore wide receiver Jim Doherty (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) proved to be the difference in overtime as No. 14 Saint Xavier University (Ill.) defeated No. 4 St. Ambrose University (Iowa), 38-31, in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League action Saturday at SXU Stadium in Chicago. The Cougars (6-2 overall/3-1 MSFA) erased a 14-point deficit with just over six minutes to play in regulation to force overtime after giving up 17 unanswered points after halftime. St. Ambrose falls to 6-1 overall with a 3-1 league mark.

"The way this game ended doesn't surprise me in the least," said Saint Xavier University head football coach Mike Feminis. "Every time we match up with St. Ambrose, it is always a great game. In fact, this was the first time the home team has won a game in this series since 2000. Two great teams left it all out on the field today and I'm just ecstatic that we came out with the win."

Senior quarterback John Perryman (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) finished with 415 passing yards, his second straight week with over 400 yards through the air, and three touchdowns. He completed 32 of his 56 pass attempts and had just one interception. Junior wide receiver Andy Ricca (LaPorte, Ind./Michigan City) led the receiving corps Saturday finishing with 11 catches for 171 yards and a score, while senior wideout Jarrod Nowman (Manteno, Ill./Bishop McNamara) also played well with seven grabs for 92 yards and a trip to the endzone. Sophomore wide receiver Jim Doherty (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) finished with six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. The SXU running game also found its way into the endzone a couple of times with junior halfback Luke Schillo (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) leading the way with 48 yards and a TD, while freshman Juaquin Rodriguez (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Saint Xavier was first to get on the scoreboard when Rodriguez broke free down the right sideline to find the endzone from 37 yards out with 9:44 left in the first quarter. The Fighting Bees tied the game, 7-7, on a three-yard rush by junior running back Adam Norland at the 5:45 mark of the quarter. An 11-yard run by sophomore halfback Tyler Driscoll gave St. Ambrose a 14-7 advantage with 13:26 to play before halftime. Sophomore kicker Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) brought SXU to within four, 14-10, when he connected on a 30-yard field goal with 3:50 remaining. However, the Cougars were not done with the first half and took a 17-14 lead into halftime after Ricca came down with the ball in the endzone to complete a 39-yard pass from Perryman with no time left on the clock.

In the second half, St. Ambrose took the lead back, 21-17, with 21 seconds left in the third quarter when senior quarterback Jeff Kietzman completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout Brandin Smith to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive. A fumble by SXU early in the fourth quarter gave SAU great field position at the Saint Xavier 29-yard line and Kietzman and Smith needed just one play to connect again in the endzone building a 28-17 lead with 9:53 to play in regulation. A 24-yard field goal by St. Ambrose at the 6:37 mark extended the lead to 14, 31-17.

SXU answered the call, however, mounting a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took just 55 seconds off the clock when Nowman broke free of his defender on the left sideline and ran in the reception for a 31-yard score. The Cougar defense forced a three-and-out and the offense got the ball back with 3:31 remaining. A 20-yard rush by Perryman set up a first-and-goal situation from the St. Ambrose one-yardline with under a minute to play and on third down Schillo was able to leap over the defenders to score the game-tying touchdown.

The Cougars got the ball first in overtime and, on the second play from the 25-yardline, Perryman found Doherty open for the go-ahead score, 38-31. The Fighting Bees were able to get a first down on the ensuing possession, but a huge sack by sophomore linebacker Sean Kenney (Palos Hills, Ill./Stagg) on a first-and-10 play from the 14-yard line pushed the ball back eight yards. On fourth and three at the Saint Xavier seven yardline, senior free safety Jeremiah Scott (North Chicago, Ill./Nebraska-Omaha/North Chicago) tackled junior tight end Chris Burhans on a two-yard reception to end the game, 38-31. Saint Xavier (6-2 overall/3-1 MSFA) heads to Deerfield, Ill., to face MSFA rival Trinity International University (Ill.) on Saturday, October 29. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.