No. 1 Marian Passes Week One Test Against No. 4 Saint Xavier with Flying Colors

9179CHICAGO – From “Start to Finish” is the mantra for the 2015 season of Marian University football. The NAIA No. 1-ranked Knights started the 2015 season with a dominant performance in a 45-13 road victory over No. 4-ranked Saint Xavier University at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago on Saturday night.

The 2014 national runners-up earned the program’s first-ever victory in Chicago with 622 yards of total offense, including 237 yards on the ground.

The Knights opened the game on defense and immediately set the tone when junior Eric Price intercepted a John Rhode pass to end the Cougars’ first possession. The Knights struck first when senior Hayden Northern hit junior wide receiver Kameron Utter with an 11-yard touchdown pass to complete a 7-play, 75-yard drive to make it 7-0 with 10:05 left in the first quarter.

The defense forced back-to-back punts and converted both into points as freshman kicker Matt Plesac hit a 23-yard field goal and Northern hit junior Krishawn Hogan with a 60-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-0 with 1:18 remaining in the quarter.

SXU got on the board with 13:50 left in the half, but Northern capped a 7-play, 66-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Hogan to make it 24-7 with 10:18 left. Neither team would score the rest of the way as MU carried a 24-7 lead into the interval.

After the defense stood tall on fourth down to open the second half, MU went on a 15-play, 90-yard drive that was capped by a four-yard touchdown run to make it 31-7 with 6:36 left in the third. MU wasn’t done as the defense held on fourth down again and sophomore Jakhari Gore made one move on the ensuing first down and was gone for a 45-yard touchdown run to make it 38-7 with 14:39 left in the game.

SXU went on a marathon drive and scored to two-yard touchdown to make it 38-14 with 4:45 left, but three plays later, junior Robert Gibson broke the second-longest run in program history when he scored on a 71-yard run to make it 45-13 and seal the victory.

Hayden Northern – 27-of-39, 385 passing yards, 3 touchdowns
Robert Gibson – 18 rushes, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns
Jakhari Gore – 10 rushes, 71 yards, 1 touchdown
Krishawn Hogan – 6 receptions, 140 yards, 2 touchdowns

Dwayne Beckford – 8 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss
Ryan Hartnett – 9 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.0 tackle for loss
Daniel Rojas – 9 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Narvin Powell – 4 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble

Robert Gibson – junior running back
On the team’s performance:
“You hold this team to 13 points, that’s coach Power and the defense. They, obviously, did a great job. You score 45 points against this team, that’s coach Mitchel and the offense linemen. We skill players, myself, Hayden, Krishawn, we all played great, but we owe it to the offensive linemen – Zach (Mitchell), Rob (McKee), Ryan (Borders), Darrion (McAlister), Logan (Glaze), Micah (Brown) – those guys. You gotta give it to those guys. They did all the hard work. It’s just some of us quicker guys that get the credit, but they are obviously the ones to thank for it.”

On what he was thinking on the 71-yard touchdown run:
“Don’t get caught, don’t fumble the football and stay in-bounds. The clock was in our favor and needed to keep the clock running in that situation so I was thinking don’t get to far toward the sideline, stay in-bounds and hang on to the dang football.”

Mark Henninger – head coach
On the nature of this particular win:
“It’s a big win. Historically, it’s a big win. I told the guys that if you go back in the history of our program, this, St. X, has always been the program that we have wanted to get to that level. They’re competing for national championships and we had only beaten them once, so, historically, it’s a big win.”

On if there is one thing he would attribute the win to:
“Preparation. The coordinators did a great job on both sides of the football and our players really worked hard. We got back from Daytona and our guys started working. I think that showed up today just how hard they worked. We are in good physical condition. There is plenty of stuff we need to clean up. We talk to our guys all the time about setting a high standard for our performance and there were a lot of great things out here today, but there were plenty of game one mistakes that we have to get cleaned up if we want to get to where we want to.”

On the memory of Cole Winnefeld:
“It was special. Mike (Cole’s dad) was up and spent time with our team yesterday. Cole’s with us everywhere we go. You could feel his presence here today and it was just really special.”

The Knights will enter a bye week on Sept. 5 and will begin preparations for the Monumental Matchup presented by Indiana Members Credit Union on Sept. 12 at St.Vincent Field. MU will take on the University of Indianapolis for the first time at 6 p.m. The game will be televised LIVE on Hometown Sports and News (HTSN) with Greg Rakestraw (p-b-p) and former MU lineman Zach Graves (color) calling all the action.

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