Benedictine pushed top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) to the final minute before falling 35-28 in the NAIA Championship Game on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Morningside quarterback Trent Solsma hit wide receiver Connor Niles for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:29 remaining for the winning score.
The Ravens, 13-2, were denied a first football championship. They led 20-14 at halftime and after falling behind 28-20, evened the game in the fourth quarter.
On his first carry of the game, fullback Frank Trent bulled over from the 1 to close the Ravens’ gap to 28-26 with 5:49 remaining.
No doubt Benedictine would attempt to tie. Quarterback Shaefer Schuetz tossed a fade to Alex Blake, who outfought the defender for the ball in the back of the end zone to make it 28-28.
The Ravens defense forced a three-and-out, but they couldn’t move on offense and were forced to punt. But punter Jacob Young couldn’t handle the snap, and Morningside started the possession at the Benedictine 18. That set up the game-winning sequence.
Benedictine took a 20-14 halftime lead: Schuetz hit Aaron Jackson for a 26-yard touchdown pass, Marquis Stewart scored on a 3-yard run the Ravens also got a pair of field goals from Young. Stewart finished with 168 rushing yards for the game.
Morningside, 15-0, won its first NAIA football title.
The Ravens were playing in the first championship game in school history and the 40th season of Coach Larry Wilcox.