No. 1 St. Xavier goes down
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media September 29, 2012 11:02PM
St. Xavier University's #32, Nick Pesek, runs for a touchdown during the first half of their game against University of St. Francis(Ind.) at St. Xavier University in Chicago, IL on Saturday September 29, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 1:15AM
Before St. Xavier ascended to the top of the NAIA football mountain, it was the University of St. Francis (Ind.) that was its biggest thorn in the side, winning all six of the teams’ meetings before St. Xavier’s Cougars beat St. Francis’ Cougars four times in the past three seasons.
Saturday, St. Xavier’s old bugaboo was back at it, spoiling the hosts’ Homecoming and undoubtedly knocking the defending national champions from the top of the NAIA rankings.
Playing without starting quarterback Jimmy Coy due to a concussion, St. Xavier was held 23 points below its average in a 25-13 loss to No. 10 St. Francis in a MSFA Mideast League opener.
“We didn’t do enough to beat a good team,” St. Xavier coach Mike Feminis said. “I’m not good with losses as far as positives, but our loss to Marian last year was a blessing in disguise.”
The loss snapped a 24-game home winning streak for St. Xavier (4-1), dating back to a 2008 loss to St. Francis (4-1, 2-0).
The backbreaker for the home squad came with under 12 minutes left when St. Francis quarterback David Yoder hit Clayton Smith for a 23-yard score on 4th and 2 for a 25-13 lead.
St. Xavier struggled in the red zone, with Joe Gill (28-of-59, 301 yards) throwing an early interception in the end zone and the Cougars twice settling for Spencer Nolen field goals in the third quarter after getting inside the St. Francis 10-yard line.
St. Xavier trailed 19-0 before Oak Lawn product Nick Pesek (18 carries, 99 yards) dashed 18 yards for a score in the final minute of the first half.
St. Rita alum Dave Marciano (13 tackles, forced fumble) and Andrew product Mike Bushnell (9 tackles, interception) led the hosts’ defense.
“We had them in third down a lot and almost every time they got it by one or two yards,” Marciano said. “This is tough, but it won’t impact the rest of our season.”
Feminis said Coy was “questionable to probable” for the Oct. 13 game at Siena Heights.