Football - Fri, Nov. 27, 2009
CHICAGO - Behind a team single-game record 10 sacks and five takeaways (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries), the No. 4 ranked Saint Xavier University football team continued its perfect season with a convincing 52-10 victory over No. 6 Lambuth University (Tenn.) in NAIA Championship Series quarterfinals action Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars (13-0 overall) had huge playmakers on both sides of the ball with junior receiver Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan/Lane Tech) and senior strong safety Joe Nee (Chicago, Ill./Saint Patrick) earning the NAIA Offensive and Defensive Player of the Game awards, respectively. SXU never trailed in the game and scored 52 unanswered points over the first three quarters to cruise to the big win. Lambuth ends its season with a 12-1 overall mark.

Torres became Saint Xavier's third wideout to break 1,000 receiving yards this season with a monster game Saturday finishing with eight catches for 192 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown grab on the game's opening drive. Junior quarterback Anthony Kropp (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) also put up big numbers offensively for the Cougars going 27-for-40 for 353 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing). Senior Bill McKeon (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) had another solid all-around outing for SXU with 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns as well as six receptions for 76 yards. For the second straight week, Nee snagged a pair of interceptions and returned one of them 43 yards for a score. Redshirt freshman defensive back Jeremy Rhodes (Alsip, Ill./Drake University/Brother Rice) was tough defensively as well finishing with eight total tackles (seven solos), including two sacks, a fumble recovery and two pass break-ups.

Saint Xavier displayed its offensive prowess early in the ballgame marching 78 yards in just six plays to take a 7-0 lead with 13:24 to play in the first quarter on the Torres' touchdown catch. After forcing a Lambuth punt on its first offensive possession, the Cougars continued to move the ball and punched it into the endzone again on an 18-yard run by McKeon with 8:50 to play in the quarter. Nee logged his first pick of the game early in the second frame and the SXU offense capitalized with a four-play, 87-yard drive capped by a nine-yard keeper by Kropp. Nee struck again on the ensuing drive for the Eagles securing his second interception and returning it 43 yards to paydirt to put his team ahead, 28-0. The Cougar defense shut down another Lambuth drive late in the first half when sophomore defensive end Michael Prosser (Rockton, Ill./Rockton-Hononegah) stripped the ball from sophomore quarterback Adam Wiese and senior defensive end Corey Smith (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) scooped it up and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.

Leading 35-0 at the half, the Saint Xavier defense shut down another Eagles' drive early in the third quarter and came back to convert a 43-yard field goal by sophomore Tom Lynch (Frankfort, Ill./Southern Illinois/Joliet Junior College/Lincoln-Way East). McKeon and junior running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) each recorded a rushing touchdown in the third quarter to cap the scoring for SXU. Playing against the Cougars reserves in the final quarter, Lambuth was able to tack up 10 points on a 47-yard rush by junior tailback Marquis Williams and a 36-yard field goal by junior kicker Nathan O'Jibway.

Saint Xavier (13-0 overall) finds out its semifinals opponent for the NAIA Championship Series later this evening when the national office releases the pairings. With all the top seeds winning this afternoon, the opponent will likely be No. 1 ranked University of Sioux Falls (S.D.).