A game for the ages
No. 1-ranked Morningside outscored No. 16 Saint Xavier 75-69 four overtimes in a game for the ages in Saturday’s NAIA Football Championship Series First Round in Sioux City.
The two 2014 NAIA Championship Series semifinalists combined to score 144 points to shatter the previous NAIA record of 113 combined points in a NAIA Championship Series contest in games between Lambuth and Lindenwood in 2008 and Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Western Montana in 1994.
Tyler Kavan provided the Mustangs with their winning margin with a 13-yard touchdown run in the fourth overtime after Saint Xavier had failed to score. It was Kavan’s fifth touchdown of the game.
The win sends the Mustangs to the NAIA Championship Series Quarterfinals to be played on Saturday, Nov. 28. Pairings will be announced on Sunday.
Morningside advanced to the quarterfinals for the 10th time in the last 12 years, while Saint Xavier, a NAIA Semifinalist five times in the last six years, had a streak of seven consecutive victories in first round games come to an end.
Mustang quarterback Ryan Kasdorf was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game after he amassed a school-record 581 yards total offense to break the former Morningside record of 510 yards total offense set by Craig Fobbe in a NAIA Championship Series Quarterfinal round victory against Evangel in 2005.
Kasdorf completed 39 of 61 pass attempts for 456 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 125 yards and one touchdown in 15 attempts. His 39 completions and 61 pass attempts were school records, breaking the former Morningside single-game standards of 34 completions by Ian Gilworth against Carroll in the 2007 NAIA Championship Series Quarterfinals and 59 pass attempts by Don Zeleznak against Dakota State in 1968.
Kasdorf’s 456 yards passing was the sixth highest single-game total in Morningside history and came just one game after he threw for 459 yards in the Mustangs’ 55-7 rout of Doane to wrap up their fifth consecutive GPAC Championship.
What was probably Kasdorf’s biggest completion of the game didn’t add to his completion or yardage totals, however. That came after the Mustangs scored a touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Kasdorf to Kendall Lindeman to close within 69-67 in the third overtime. Needing a two-point conversion to stay alive, Kasdorf scrambled to buy time on a broken play before he delivered a strike to Connor Niles to extend the game into a fourth overtime.
Kasdorf also rallied the Mustangs in the first overtime with a five-yard touchdown run to tie the score.
Kasdorf’s six touchdown passes left him one TD shy of Morningside’s single-game record, a feat he tied in the Mustangs’ win against Doane in the regular season finale. Kasdorf threw touchdown passes of 24 and 39 yards to Kavan, 29 yards to Jason Vander Kooi, 27 yards to Niles, nine yards to Briar Evans, and nine yards to Lindeman. Three of Kasdorf’s touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter when the Mustangs rallied from a pair of 14-point deficits (47-33 and 54-40), including the 29-yard strike to Vander Kooi that tied the score at 54-54 with only 58 seconds left.
Kavan finished one score shy of a school record with his five touchdowns. Kavan rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns and had the top pass receiving performance of his career with eight receptions for 107 yards and two TDs. Kavan rushed for his first touchdown with a five-yard run in the second quarter, added a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and then scored the game-winner with his 13-yard scoring jaunt in the fourth overtime.
The Mustangs’ other points came from freshman kicker Jared Amundson, who kicked seven extra points and booted field goals of 27 and 24 yards.
Saint Xavier had some offensive heroes of its own, including quarterback John Rhode, who completed 35 of 59 pass attempts for 539 yards and tied a school record and NAIA Championship Series record with seven touchdown passes. Rhode became the first player to ever pass for over 500 yards against Morningside.
Ryan Carroll finished with 12 pass receptions for 209 yards and three touchdowns and Stephen Simms had 12 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Morningside’s offensive line protected Kasdorf all day by not allowing a sack, while the Mustangs’ defense sacked Rhode five times to finish one sack shy of a school record.
Austin Allen had a huge game for the Mustangs’ defense with 1.5 quarterback sacks to go along with three quarterback hurries and two pass breakups. Ethan Stofferan, Zac Schleuger and Jason Lupkes all had sacks, while Sean Fitzgerald combined with Allen on one of his sacks to go along with three pass breakups.
Stofferan and Christian Walker each collected 11 tackles to share Morningside honors. Walker also had an interception to set up a touchdown.
Doug Ruggles, named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game, had a game-high 17 tackles to go along with a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries for Saint Xavier.
Morningside improved its record to 11-1, while Saint Xavier closed the books on a 7-4 campaign.