CFB: Red Raiders Fall To Defending Champions, 30-3

10th-ranked Northwestern College saw its season come to an end with a 30-3 loss to top-ranked and defending national champion University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in a FCS Quarterfinal played today in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Football graphic by MGN.

The Red Raiders finish with a 10-2 record, its first double-digit win season since 2006.

Northwestern's offense was held in check by the highly touted Cougars defense as they limited the Red Raiders to 13 first downs and 245 total yards. The Red Raiders found things especially difficult in the run game, rushing for a season-low 57 yards on 28 carries. Northwestern did have the edge in passing yards (188-182).

The Raider D held its own against one of the top offenses in the NAIA, holding USF to nearly 200 yards and over 20 points below their season average. Northwestern gave up 20 first downs and 354 yards, 172 rush and 182 through the air. They also posted four sacks, the most given up by USF this season.

The Cougars opened the game with their best drive, a 16-play, 75-yard drive that used up nearly nine minutes and ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Nick Ferrer to Justin Green. USF converted a pair of third down plays and also two fourth down plays, including a fourth-and-two on the scoring pass play to Green.

Northwestern responded with a nine-play, 26-yard drive that resulted in its only points, a 42-yard field goal by Braxton Williams to cut the lead to 7-3. The scoring drive was aided by a 40-yard kick return by Shane Solberg and a couple of long runs by Tyson Kooima.

The score remained 7-3 until just before the half when the Cougars defense came up with its first turnover as safety Blake Schumacher intercepted a Kooima pass and returned it to the Red Raider 26-yard line. Four plays later, USF scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ferrer to Dan Ricksy with 28 seconds left for 14-3 halftime lead.

USF added a 27-yard field goal by Gavin Gardner midway through the third quarter and the Cougars defense recorded its second turnover on Northwestern's next drive as Wilmer Cole returned an interception 19 yards down to the NWC 36-yard line. The turnover set up the Cougars third touchdown when Ferrer threw a 30-yard strike to Ricksy, giving the host a 24-3 lead late in the third quarter.

The Cougars scored for the final time on its first drive of the fourth quarter when Green ran it in from 29-yard out and after the missed extra point, made the score 30-3. Northwestern had its best chance of reaching the endzone on its offensive series, driving down to the one-yard line but the Cougars defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-one.

Kooima totaled 228 yards of offense, rushing for 40 yards on 11 carries to go with 188 yards passing. Kalogonis rushed 16 times for 19 yards and Solberg caught four passes for 64 yards.

Defensively, Joey Novotny led the way with 9.5 stops and Jacob Jenness totaled nine tackles. Jed Van't Hof registered two of his team's four quarterback sacks and Tanner Machacek posted 1.5 sacks to go along with six tackles.

Green rushed 30 times for 180 yards and a score to lead the USF offense. Ferrer completed 15-of-29 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns while Ricksy caught four passes for 111 yards and two scores.