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College Football: St. Xavier reaches national semifinals

St. Xavier University quarterback Jimmy Coy scores keeper Cougars' 35-21 wover University Cumberlands  Saturday Evergreen Park.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times

St. Xavier University quarterback Jimmy Coy scores on a keeper in the Cougars' 35-21 win over University of the Cumberlands Saturday in Evergreen Park. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 24, 2013 4:47PM



Locked in a nail-biter late in the first half, defending NAIA champion St. Xavier reached into its bag of tricks to help clinch its fourth straight appearance in the national semifinals.

The Cougars led the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) 16-14 with nine seconds left in the half when, facing a fourth-and-goal from the three, St. Xavier coach Mike Feminis sent out his field-goal unit.

But holder Patrick Kelso sprinted under center to take the snap and pitched it to Cole Midgett, who dashed into the end zone.

No. 4 St. Xavier took a 23-14 lead into the break and rode the momentum to a 35-21 win over the seventh-ranked Patriots in a quarterfinal at Deaton Field in Mount Greenwood.

“That’s a fake that we’ve had in place since the St. Francis of Indiana game (Sept. 29),” Feminis said. “We were waiting for the right spot for it and we thought this was a good one. The execution was great and it was big.”

The Cougars will go on the road for next week’s semifinals and are likely to take on No. 2 Morningside (Iowa).

St. Xavier (11-1) started fast, linebacker Dave Marciano (St. Rita) coming in offensively to cap a 70-yard opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Jimmy Coy, named Offensive Player of the Game, threw for 307 yards on 21-of-36 passing and broke big runs as well, including a 14-yard scamper to pay dirt in the second quarter.

“They’re a running team and we wanted to start fast to make them throw,” Coy said. “They were dropping a lot of guys in coverage and I tried to use my legs to give them something else to think about.”

Cumberlands (10-2), which entered the game averaging a national-best 345 rushing yards per game, got TD runs of nine yards from Willie Gibson and 12 yards from D’Angelo Jordan to stay close before Midgett’s touchdown provided a backbreaker.

St. Xavier’s defense put the clamps on in the second half. Terrance Cobb. the nation’s top runner, rushed for 174 yards on 33 carries but was held mostly in check aside from a 60-yard TD run in the third quarter.

“Bottling up Cobb was our main focus,” said Zach Dolph, who had 15 tackles and was named Defensive Player of the Game. “We clogged up the middle and gave him nowhere to go.”

Oak Lawn product Nick Pesek (19 carries, 116 yards; 3 catches, 43 yards) added a 30-yard TD run in the third quarter for the Cougars.

Kicker Spencer Nolen connected on field goals of 25, 31 and 39 yards for St. Xavier.

“You don’t get tired of the feeling of getting this far,” Feminis said. “We’re still hungry, though.”



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