Saint Francis beats Reinhardt for 2nd consecutive NAIA title
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Justin Green ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns to help Saint Francis beat Reinhardt 24-13 on Saturday night for its second consecutive NAIA championship.
Nick Ferrer was 19-of-30 passing for 270 yards and Duke Blackwell had five receptions for 96 yards for Saint Francis (14-0). The Cougars, winners of 23 games in a row, have not lost since Oct. 1, 2016.
Ryan Johnson recovered a muffed punt by Reinhardt (13-1) to set up Gavin Gardner’s 22-yard field goal midway through the first quarter and, after the Eagles missed a 24-yarder about three minutes later, Green raced untouched for an 80-yard touchdown to give Saint Francis a 10-0 lead.
Ferrer hit Dan Ricksy for a 34-yard gain and Blackwell had a 4-yard reception before his 16-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter. Reinhardt went three-and-out on its next possession before Blackwell had back-to-back catches of 16 and 46 yards to set up a 16-yard scoring run by Green that made it 24-0 with 12:20 left in the half.
Quannie Green led the Eagles with 59 yards rushing and Trevae Cain scored on a 2-yard run. Twelve different players had at least one carry for Reinhardt, which came in leading the nation at 350.5 yards rushing per game. The Eagles finished with 60 carries for 243 yards on Saturday.
Reinhardt dropped its football program for nearly 100 years before reviving it in 2013.
The top-ranked Cougars, who ended No. 2 Reinhardt’s season for the third year in a row, beat the Eagles in the 2015 quarterfinals and the 2016 semis.
Ferrer, a senior who was named NAIA player of the year, finished his career with 136 touchdown passes, second most in NAIA history.
The Cougars lost three consecutive NAIA championship games from 2004-06 before winning their first national title last season.