Carson-Newman 29, UC-Davis 26
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) _ Backup quarterback Zac Allen hit Jacques Rumph with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds left to give Carson-Newman a 29-26 victory over UC-Davis in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday.
Allen, who also ran for two scores, entered the game in the first half after starter Matt Penland injured his knee.
Carson-Newman (12-1) plays Northern Colorado (11-3) on Dec. 13 in the championship in Florence, Ala. Northern Colorado beat Clarion, Pa., 19-18 in its semifinal game on Saturday.
Carson-Newman’s 10-play, 96-yard winning drive capped a comeback from a 13-point deficit.
``Our guys refused to quit,″ said Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks. ``We were down 20-7 at the half, and it didn’t look good at all. But we hung in there and dug a little deeper. The main thing is that our guys refused to get beat.″
Quarterback Mark Grieb completed 25-of-34 passes for 328 yards for UC-Davis (8-5), but the Aggies fumbled twice and had two passes intercepted. After Carson-Newman took the lead in the fourth quarter, an interception caught by Jason Slimp allowed the Eagles to run out the clock.
``No question that this was a bitter loss,″ said UC-Davis coach Bob Biggs. ``We had some chances, but you can’t afford to miss opportunities and turn the ball over in a game like this. We had a chance to win, but we just didn’t get it done.″
Carson-Newman led 7-0 after the first quarter, but Jermaine Rucker scored from the 2-yard line to launch a busy offensive second quarter for UC-Davis. Grieb then threw a 16-yard pass to Ernest Perkins and a 50-yard pass to Ken Marshall to put UC-Davis up 20-7 at the half.
Rucker, who ran for 137 yards on 36 carries, was the only UC-Davis player to finished with positive rushing yardage.
Allen’s 2-yard TD run and the point after in the third quarter brought Carson-Newman to within 6 points at 20-14. But UC-Davis struck next when Aaron Bugarske caught a 60-yard pass from Grieb.
Rumph returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to put the ball on the UC-Davis 23. Three plays later, Allen ran in from the 23 to score his second touchdown and close the gap to 26-21, setting up Rumph’s game-winning catch later in the quarter.