In a game for the ages, Morningside defeated Southern Oregon 47-44 in overtime in Saturday's quarterfinal round of the NAIA Football Championship Series to move on to next Saturday's semifinals.
The Mustangs, ranked third in the nation with a 12-0 record, are in the semifinals for the second time, joining the college's 2005 team that finished 12-1. Morningside's semifinal round opponent has yet to be determined.
Saturday's contest was the high scoring shootout it was expected to be as two of the nation's most prolific offensive attacks squared off. Southern Oregon amassed 587 yards total offense, the most yards the Mustangs have allowed all season, while Morningside rolled up 505 yards total offense.
Morningside quarterback Joel Nixon fired a four-yard touchdown pass to Joel McCabe for the winning margin in the overtime. The Mustang touchdown came after Southern Oregon was forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Colin Amsler on its overtime possession.
Amsler had sent the game into overtime when he kicked a 17-yard field goal with five seconds left to tie the score at 41-41, but the Mustangs were glad to escape allowing only the field goal. Trailing 41-38, Southern Oregon appeared to have Morningside on the ropes after driving 83 yards to face a third and goal from the Mustangs' one-yard line with 30 seconds left before Aaron Roberg and Billy Awtry stopped Raider touchdown leader Mike Olson short of the goal line and forced the guests to settle for the tying field goal.
The Mustangs had to hold off the Raiders in the second half after taking a 35-21 lead into the intermission. Southern Oregon, which scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 28-17 deficit in an opening round win against St. Ambrose, scored 17 unanswered points to start the second half to go up 38-35 with 11:53 left in the game.
Southern Oregon's lead was short lived when Nixon led the Mustangs on an 80-yard touchdown march capped by an eight-yard TD pass to Kyle Schuck to regain the lead at 41-38 with 7:44 left. Nixon completed six passes during the touchdown march, including screens of 14 and 13 yards to Jon Halvorson along with 17-yard strikes to McCabe and Schuck.
Courtesy: Morningside Media Relations
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