Morningside puts end to St. Xavier’s title hopes
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media December 1, 2012 7:20PM
Morningside's Keith Chvatal, 50, tackles Saint Xavier's Shane Zackery during NAIA football action at Olsen Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, December 1, 2012. (Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal)
Updated: January 31, 2013 2:03AM
SIOUX CITY, IOWA — Morningside College scored touchdowns on its first four possessions Saturday, making it look easy against a St. Xavier defense that’s been outstanding all season.
To say the defending NAIA national champion Cougars were stunned may be an understatement.
“You can say we were shocked,” linebacker Dave Marciano said. “I was super confident coming into this game.”
St. Xavier’s offense kept it in the game for a half, but Morningside continued to pour it on offensively while pitching a second-half shutout in a 47-19 win.
The No. 3 Mustangs (13-0) advance to their first national championship game and will meet No. 5 Marian.
Things looked promising early for the Cougars (11-2), who went up 7-0 just 83 seconds in on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Coy to Chase Catton (9 catches, 145 yards).
But Morningside scored three times in the opening quarter and found the end zone on its first possession of quarter two on the third TD pass of the game from Joel Nixon (22-of-34, 335 yards, 4 TDs).
“It’s the first time that’s happened to our ‘D’ all year,” St. Xavier coach Mike Feminis said. “We certainly didn’t have our best day, but (Morningside) had something to do with it. They’re an awfully good football team.”
Coy hit Wes Gastel (8 catches, 81 yards) for an 8-yard score and Spencer Nolen’s second 26-yard field goal pulled St. Xavier to within 27-19 at the half.
That was as good as it would get for the visitors. The Cougars had 429 yards of total offense but struggled to find the end zone.
Back-to-back long third-quarter drives for St. Xavier ended with turnovers on downs deep in Morningside territory, dashing any hope for a repeat trip to the title game.
“We moved the ball down the field. We just couldn’t find the end zone,” Catton said. “That’s been a problem all year. It just comes down to not executing.”
Coy finished his career 25-2 as a starter. He was 29-of-48 passing for 369 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions Saturday.
“They just beat us in all phases of the game” Coy said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way. It’s a tough way to go out but it’s been a great run these last two years.”