Tom Yaremko hit the right upright in the first quarter and the left upright in the second. Then with the NAIA title on the line, the Carroll College kicker was dead on in the fourth quarter.
Yaremko made a 22-yard field goal with 7:47 left and the Montana school snapped Sioux Falls’ record-tying 42-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Saturday in Rome, Ga.
“I just had to forget it,” Yaremko said about his misses from 21 and 38 yards. “My teammates said they still had faith in me.”
Sioux Falls had a chance to force overtime, but Braden Wieking’s field-goal try from 46 yards was wide left with 3 seconds remaining.
It was the final game in the NAIA for the South Dakota school, which is moving to NCAA Division II. The Cougars won the previous two championships, beating Carroll 23-7 in 2008.
“They hate losing and so do I,” Sioux Falls first-year coach Jed Stugart said. “They didn’t want to go out like this.”
Carroll quarterback Gary Wagner, selected the offensive player of the game, had an 83-yard TD run in the second quarter and was 12 of 21 passing for 107 yards for the Saints (14-0).
“I can’t even put into words how great I feel,” Wagner said. “I’m just so happy to be a part of this team. These guys are my family.”
Sioux Falls (13-1) and Carroll have combined to win nine straight NAIA titles. Carroll won from 2002-2005 and again in 2007, beating Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls won in 1996, 2006 and the past two years.
Wagner broke Jordan Carlson’s tackle and outran the Sioux Falls secondary with 8:47 left in the second quarter to put Carroll ahead. Sioux Falls tied it with 3:02 left in the half on Jordan Taylor’s 1-yard run that finished off a 63-yard, 11-play drive.
Ted Morigeau (Kettle Falls) recovered Jon Eastman’s fumble midway through the third quarter, but Carroll couldn’t take advantage of the game’s only turnover. The Saints were able to mount a fourth-quarter drive, though, and Yaremko hit the deciding field goal.
Sioux Falls got to the Carroll 31 after the field goal, but Brian Strobel sacked Eastman on second down and two passes were then incomplete.
Eastman completed three passes in the final minute after the Cougars got the ball back, but Wieking missed the potential tying field goal.
“He took it really hard,” Stugart said. “But it shouldn’t have come down to that.”
Sioux Falls was held to 35 yards rushing and Carroll had nearly a 10-minute edge in time of possession.
Sioux Falls’ 42-game winning streak tied the NAIA record set by Texas A&I – now Texas A&M-Kingsville – in the 1970s. The Cougars were 55-2 the last four seasons, the only other loss to Carroll in the 2007 title game.
Sioux Falls linebacker Eric Anderson, who was in on 17 tackles, was the defensive player of the game.
“I’d trade the award in a heartbeat for a national championship,” Anderson said.
NCAA Division II
David Nadeau’s 32-yard kick as time expired gave the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs a 20-17 victory over Delta State in the Division II national title game in Florence, Ala., wrapping up the school’s second perfect season in the past three years with another trophy on a December afternoon.
Cody Eich’s 20-yard interception return gave the Bulldogs (15-0) the ball at midfield with 52 seconds left in the game, and Chase Vogler’s 25-yard pass to Brian Hanson got Minnesota-Duluth within range for the second game-winning field goal in championship history.
Ted Clem’s 50-yard field goal gave Troy State an 18-17 win over North Dakota State in 1984.
Delta State (11-4) had tied the game on Matt Snyder’s 22-yard field goal with 2:22 left, but four turnovers and squandered opportunities in the red zone proved costly.
It’s the second national title in school history for Minnesota-Duluth, which also went 15-0 in winning the 2008 championship. Grand Valley State (2006) and Northwest Missouri State (1998) have also posted 15-0 records en route to the national title.
Brad Foss’ 12-yard run with 8:20 left in the game gave Minnesota-Duluth a 17-14 lead, helping to set the stage for a dramatic final few minutes.
NCAA Division III
Levell Coppage ran for 299 yards and three touchdowns and Wisconsin-Whitewater forced five turnovers and shut out Mount Union in the second half to win its second consecutive NCAA Division III football national championship, 31-21 in Salem, Va.
The Warhawks completed their second straight 15-0 season, and won their third national championship in four years. They are 57-3 in Lance Leipold’s four seasons as coach.
The Purple Raiders (14-1), winners of 10 championships in 13 prior trips to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl under coach Larry Kehres, did all their scoring in a span of less than 4 minutes in the second quarter, but otherwise couldn’t solve the Warhawks’ defense.