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Football - Thu, Sep. 21, 2017
#11 Saint Xavier (3-0) at #1 St. Francis (Ind.)
Saturday, September 23 | 5:00 p.m. CDT
Bishop D'Arcy Stadium | Fort Wayne, Ind.
Live Stats | Live Video | Pregame Notes | WXAV Coach's Show
 
 

Kickoff
• In what may be the biggest matchup of the regular season for the Cougars, #11 Saint Xavier hits the road this week to take on #1 St. Francis (Ind.) on Saturday night.

• The 'battle of the Cougars' takes place for the 14th time on Saturday. St. Francis holds an 8-5 lead in the series dating back to 1998.

• Saint Xavier is celebrating the 25th season of Saint Xavier football in 2017.

• The Cougars will look to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 2012.

St. Laurence HS / Burbank, Ill.) have split time under center so far this year. Hunniford started in two home wins, over No. 5 Marian and Lindenwood-Belleville, while Martinez got the call on the road at Missouri Baptist. The duo have combined for 967 yards and 12 TDs on 68-of-94 passing.

• SXU will go for their fifth straight win over the MSFA Mideast League, dating back to last season's 25-21 victory over No. 23 Concordia on Oct. 8, 2016.

 

Series History
• Saint Xavier is 5-8 against St. Francis overall, but have won five of the last seven meetings going back to 2009.

• The two sides have met in the NAIA Championship Series three times - 2002, 2007, and 2010. SXU won the most recent playoff matchup, 40-21.

• SXU holds a 2-5 record against St. Francis in Fort Wayne.

• In their last meeting on Oct. 11, 2014, then-freshman kicker Abdul Mahdi (Bogan HS / Chicago, Ill.) converted four field goals, including a 44-yard attempt, in a 53-26 victory at home. Mike Ivlow (Joliet Catholic Academy / Channahon, Ill.) had one rushing TD and 26 yards on seven carries. 

 

Last Time Out
• Earning their first shutout victory in five years, No. 13 Saint Xavier rolled to a 45-0 victory over the visiting Lindenwood-Belleville Lynx last Saturday night at Deaton Field.

• Junior quarterback Justin Hunniford threw for four TD passes in the win, going 20-for-31 for 196 yards after sitting out much of the second half as the Cougars built their lead. 

• Senior running back Mike Ivlow would put his name in the SXU record books in the third quarter, when he took off for a 98-yard touchdown run, the longest rush in program history. Ivlow finished with 189 yards, the third-most ever by a Cougar in a single game.

• The Lindenwood-Belleville offense would see just 11 snaps in SXU territory, as the Cougar defense forced 12 punts in the win. 

• Linebacker Josh Hettiger (Richards HS / Oak Lawn, Ill.) finished with ten tackles to lead the team, including three and a half sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Derrick Hosselton (Olivet Nazarene [Ill.] / Manteno, Ill.) also recovered a fumble, along with seven tackles and one-and-a-half tackles for loss.

 

About St. Francis
• The other Cougars are winners of 12 straight, dating back to last season. USF are the defending NAIA national champions, their first national title for the program.

• St. Francis lead the NAIA in scoring average, with 57.3 points per game. USF also ranks 3rd in total offense (614 ypg), and 4th in passing offense (376.3 ypg).

• Quarterback Nick Ferrer is averaging 354.3 yards per game, ranking 5th in the NAIA.

• Running back Justin Green is 6th nationally, with 125.3 yards per game, and is averaging two touchdowns each week so far this this season.

• On defense, Piercen Harnish has six tackles for loss, good for 11th-most in the NAIA.

 

Offensive Leaders
• Junior quarterback Justin Hunniford ranks 2nd in the MSFA in passing efficiency (170.1), 7th in total offense (213.0 ypg), and 8th in passing yards (207.0 ypg).

• Sophomore Alex Martinez does not currently qualify for the MSFA leaderboards, but currently averages 346 passing yards, 339 yards of total offense, and a passer rating of 196.9 after his start at Missouri Baptist on Sept. 9.

• In the win over Marian on Aug. 31, Hunniford became the first Cougar to throw for over 400 yards since 2015. John Rhode recorded 539 yards in the NAIA FCS first round game at No. 1 Morningside on Nov. 21, 2015, in a four-overtime affair.

• Wideout Nick Czeszewski (Oak Forest HS / Oak Forest, Ill.) ranks 6th in the NAIA with 166.7 all purpose yards per game, and 7th nationally with 116.7 receiving yards per game.

• Kicker Abdul Mahdi has the only made field goal of over 50 yards in the NAIA this season. The senior leads the league among kickers, with 7.7 points per game (9th in NAIA).

 

Defensive Leaders
• Linebacker Josh Hettiger ranks 8th in the MSFA, with a team-high 8.7 tackles per game. The sophomore also sits 3rd on the league's sack list, with four on the season. Hettiger ranks 5th in the NAIA, with 1.3 sacks per game.

• Junior lineman Anthony Kowalczyk (Steinmetz HS / Chicago, Ill.) is 7th in the league with three sacks on the year, all coming on Sept. 9 at Missouri Baptist.

• Four players rank among the top 12 in tackles for loss, with Kowalczyk and Hettiger tied for the team lead with five and a half (6th in MSFA). Dmitri Joe (Nazareth Academy / LaGrange Park, Ill.) (4 TFL; 11th) and Derrick Hosselton (3.5 TFL; 12th) are also among the league leaders.

 

Players of the Week
• Saint Xavier has taken six out of the nine possible MSFA Midwest League Player of the Week awards so far this season, the most for any program through the first three weeks in the Midwest or Mideast Leagues in MSFA history.

• On Sept. 4, the Cougars swept the three weekly honors, as Justin Hunniford was named Offensive Player of the Week, Dmitri Joe earned Defensive Player of the Week honors, and Abdul Mahdi was tagged as Special Teams Player of the Week.

• On Sept. 11, quarterback Alex Martinez was tagged as the MSFA Midwest League's Offensive Player of the Week after a six-TD performance at Missouri Baptist.

• Last Monday, Mahdi earned his second Player of the Week honor of the season, collecting nine points with a field goal and six PATs, while senior running back Mike Ivlow was named Offensive Player of the Week for his 189-yard performance over Lindenwood-Belleville. Ivlow finished with the third-most rushing yards in a single game in SXU history, and his 98-yard TD run in the third quarter is the longest run from scrimmage in the program's 25-year history.

 

Bruce R. Deaton Field
• SXU holds an all-time record at Deaton Field of 93-44 (.679).

• Since the installation of FieldTurf at Deaton Field in 2006, the Cougars are 61-10 (.859).

• The Cougars have finished with a perfect home record four times: 2002, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

• From 2009-12, SXU won a program-record 24 consecutive home games.

 

Cougar Football History
• Saint Xavier is 167-111 (.601) all-time, in their 25th season of competition.

• The Cougars won the 2011 NAIA National Championship, which remains the most recent and 11th-ever college football national championship in the state of Illinois.

• Saint Xavier is one of only six college football programs in the state of Illinois to claim a national title, and only the second in the city of Chicago. The Cougars' championship was the first for the city since the University of Chicago's national championship in 1905, ending a 106-year drought. 

• The Cougars have won seven MSFA titles, with four Midwest League championships (2002-03, 2005, 2015), and three titles while competing in the Mideast League (2009-10, 2012).

• SXU has ten appearances in the NAIA Football Championship Series, and holds an all-time postseason record of 15-9 (.625).

 

Cougars in the Polls
• Saint Xavier climbed two spots this week, improving to No. 11 in the latest NAIA Coaches' Poll, released on Tuesday.

• The Cougars hold their highest rank in the poll since taking the No. 9 spot in Sept. 12, 2016.

• In the Sept. 11 poll, SXU improved from No. 24 to No. 13, the team's largest-ever improvement between back-to-back polls.

• Saint Xavier opened the 2017 season with a No. 24 ranking in the NAIA Preseason Coaches Poll, released Aug. 7.

• SXU has been ranked a total of 181 weeks in the NAIA Coaches' Poll, dating back to 1999.

• In 14 polls the Cougars held the No. 1 ranking, most recently in the first five weeks of 2012.

• SXU was ranked No. 1 for a program-record eight consecutive polls in the 2011 season (Sept. 12 - Oct. 31)

 

Cougars on the Air
• Saint Xavier football radio broadcasts can be found on WXAV 88.3 FM.

• Live video broadcasts of home games can be found at SXUCougars.com/LIVE, with links to road broadcasts on the season schedule at SXUCougars.com.

• WXAV also hosts the Coach's Show every week, with a podcast on demand at SoundCloud.com/wxav883.