UPLAND, Ind. -- On a beautiful, mid-November afternoon, the 12th season for the University of Saint Francis appeared to crash to a halt at the hands of 25th-ranked Taylor University, 23-16.
College Fanz Sports Network will have the 2009 NAIA Football Championship Pairings Show starting at 2:30 FW time Sun., Nov. 15 at www.collegefanz.com. With the loss, USF coach Kevin Donley felt the chances for his Cougars to get a bid were very slim.
With the exception of an Jordan Wise's interception and return for two points on a Taylor two-point conversion attempt, the 7-3 Trojans shut out the Cougars in the second half. TU, which defeated USF for the first time since 1998 ending a 7-game losing streak to USF, took the lead for good on a 22-yard Nick Davis field goal with 4:25 to play in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Cougars (7-3, 5-2 MSFA MEL) had two possessions clipped short by interceptions -- one thrown by USF starting quarterback Alex Beierwalter at the TU 6-yard line and the second thrown by Shaine Tierney. Bryan Onuselogu not only picked off Tierney, he returned the interception 30 yards to the USF 30. TU drove the 30 yards in eight plays, stripped 3:58 off the fourth quarter clock, and made it 23-14 when Addison slithered in from the USF 4-yard line with 1:08 to play.
TU picked off Beierwalter on USF first possession in the fourth quarter. He had come in for Tierney, who had to go to the sideline with a bloody elbow. The Cougars had driven from their own 2-yard line to the TU 31, but Beierwalter's pass into a cross-wind for Brian Schultz didn't get over the top and Schultz couldn't come back to the ball or break up the interception by Marcellus Burton.
Wise picked off Addison cutting the USF deficit to seven, but after USF picked up two first downs moving out to its 43, Tierney mis-fired on four consecutive passes, two that were broken up by TU defenders.
"The second half, we just didn't capitalize on a number of opportunities," a dis-believing Tierney said afterwards. He didn't start because of an injury sustained in the Olivet Nazarene game, but after Beierwalter fumbled trying to sneak in for a touchdown in the second quarter from the TU 3-yard line that would have drawn USF within a point, USF coach Kevin Donley called Tierney's number 5.
"No excuses, Taylor played a great game," Donley said. "We didn't make plays. We've had our share of injuries, a lot of adversity to overcome. We've got great kids who gave it everything we had. It wasn't a great year -- 7-3 is a good year by some standards but not by ours.
"I've got to look back and evaluate myself and what we need to do from here."
USF appeared in good position to win the early field position battle after USF's Kenny Paul punted and pinned the Trojans back at their 5-yard line. But TU stunned the Cougars on second-and-16 when QB Shaun Addison connected with Kris Kemp for an 82-yard TD reception and a 7-0 TU lead at 6:00 in the first quarter. It was Kemp's first TD reception of the season and just his 13th catch of the season.
The Cougars struck back with a methodical 11-play, 70-yard drive capped on Beierwalter's 17-yard TD sprint. Rhys Barnhart kicked the extra point for the tie at 1:24 and Barnhart also moved into fifth on the USF career scoring list alone one point ahead of Mike Ledo.
TU retaliated with a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive when Nick Boland plunged in from the USF 1-yard line on fourth and one with 12:49 to play in the fourth quarter.
A 55-yard Paul punt and a 15-yard Stephen Whited sack put TU back at its 5-yard line. After two futile TU rushes, Davis punted and Donavon Evans raced the punt to the TU 4-yard line. On the first play, Beierwalter was stopped and appeared to try to reach for the goal line. He lost the ball and TU recovered in the end zone with 9:30 to play in the first half.
USF's defense gave ground grudgingly and on fourth-and 11, Wise broke up and Addison pass to Trent Schmale. Tierney took over at QB and directed USF 80 yards in seven plays. Tierney connected with Armando Bustamante for a 27-yard yard TD and Barnhart tied it at 14 with 2:52 to play in the half.
USF senior and career rushing leader Daniel Carter suited up and tried to play to start the second half. He rushed for three yards on his first carry and two on his second, but that was it for Carter, who popped his hamstring in his leg early in the Saint Xavier game last Saturday (Nov. 7).
TU took the lead on its third possession of the third quarter. An unsportsmanlike penalty took the steam out of a 57-yard Paul punt to the TU 29-yard line. From its 44-yard line, TU took the lead on the Davis field goal capping a 6-play, 51-yard thrust to the USF 5-yard line.
TU finished with 367 yards total offense, USF 326. Tierney completed 19-of-32 pass attempts with one interception for 196 yards. Beierwalter connected on 6-of-11 passes with one interception for 48 yards. Beierwalter rushed seven times for 50 yards to lead the USF rushing attack. Frank Wolf carried 10 times for 27 yards. Tierney was sacked twice, Beierwalter once. Senior Brian Schultz caught seven passes for 74 yards and became the seventh Cougar with 100 receptions for a career.
Addison connected on 17-of-33 passes with one interception for 288 yards. He was sacked twice. Addison led TU rushing with 18 carries for 44 yards after losing 20 yards. Schmale had seven receptions for 106 yards with a long of 45.
The TU win snapped USF's streak of 14 consecutive wins against Indiana competition.
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