Football - Fri, Nov. 20, 2009
CHICAGO - Senior wide receiver Bill McKeon (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) scored four touchdowns on the day to help lead No. 4 ranked Saint Xavier University to a 52-28 victory over No. 9 McKendree University (Ill.) in first-round action of the 2009 NAIA Football Championship Series Saturday afternoon at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. After a tight first quarter that ended with the score tied 7-7, the Cougars took control of the game scoring 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to pull away for good. Following the game, McKeon was named the NAIA Offensive Player of the Game, while senior strong safety Joe Nee (Chicago, Ill./Saint Patrick) earned NAIA Defensive Player of the Game recognition.

McKeon displayed his versatility on the field throughout the game Saturday racking up 87 yards and three touchdowns on the ground off nine carries, while also catching eight balls for 97 yards and a score. Junior quarterback Anthony Kropp (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) had another impressive outing for the Cougars going 30-for-44 for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) led the Saint Xavier receiving corps Saturday with a game-high 11 catches for 137 yards and a score. On the defensive side, Nee was huge in the secondary finishing the game with two tackles and two interceptions, both coming in the second half. Senior Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) led the SXU defense with eight total tackles, including five solo stops.

It did not take long for the Cougar offense to post points against the NAIA's No. 2 ranked defense with Maher scoring just 1:43 into the game on a three-yard pass from Kropp shortly after McKeon kept the drive alive with a beautiful 50-yard catch on third down. However, McKendree would answer later in the quarter when junior running back Marlone Chenault broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run down the sideline to tie things up, 7-7. The second quarter belonged to the Cougars as McKeon backed into the endzone after hauling in a 24-yard pass from Kropp to put SXU ahead, 14-7, with 11:10 to play in the first half. Three minutes later, junior running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) scored on a big 50-yard run to extend the lead to 14 points, 21-7. Junior wideout Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan/Lane Tech) would score next for Saint Xavier on a 14-yard connection with Kropp with 2:43 to play in the half. The Cougars would then take a 31-7 advantage into halftime following a 38-yard field goal by sophomore Tom Lynch (Frankfort, Ill./Southern Illinois/Joliet Junior College/Lincoln-Way East) with just over a minute to play before the break.

Midway through the third quarter, McKendree would cut into the Cougars' big lead, 31-14, on a five-yard touchdown strike by sophomore quarterback Austin Fisher to junior tight end Byron Gettis. However, McKeon would then score Saint Xavier's next three touchdowns, all off of runs, with the final one, a nine-yarder, giving his team a 52-14 lead with 7:35 to play in regulation. Fisher would connect with sophomore Myron Hicks for a 53-yard touchdown pass and senior Nick Fuhler for a five-yard grab late in the fourth quarter to close out the game's scoring.

Saint Xavier (12-0 overall) will host a quarterfinals game in the NAIA Championship Series on Saturday, November 28, at 1 p.m. at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field. The NAIA is scheduled to release the pairings for next weekend's quarterfinals later this evening.