2015 NAIA Football Championship Preview

MUXSUBQUOTVNTZW.20141217220604By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the second-consecutive season, No. 6 Marian (Ind.) and No. 8 Southern Oregon do battle in the NAIA Football National Championship, presented by Waste Pro. Kick off for the 60th annual event is slated for 6:04 p.m. EST Saturday at Municipal Stadium. The game will be delivered on ESPN3.

Southern Oregon and Marian’s meeting Saturday is the first time that the same two teams have met in the championship game since Carroll (Mont.) and former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) locked horns in 2007 and then again in 2008.

The City of Daytona Beach are the event hosts for a second-straight year. For information on the NAIA’s partner hotels and details on the championship week schedule, including online ticket options, visit http://bit.ly/NAIARaceToDaytona2015.

2015 NAIA Football National Championship – Game Notes
• There have been 46 different host venues in the history of the championship.
• The 2015 title game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6:04 p.m. EST, marking the third-straight year that the championship bout will take place on Dec. 19.
• Saturday’s championship game is the 60th in NAIA history. The inaugural contest in 1956, held in Little Rock, Ark., featured former members Montana State and St. Joseph’s (Ind.). The game ended in a 0-0 tie and a shared national champion.
• Seven ties have occurred in the NAIA Football National Championship. The last tie was a 21-21 stalemate between Central Washington and Findlay (Ohio) in the 1995 Division II title game.
• The first NAIA Football National Championship game to go into extra time came in 2012. Marian, who was only in its sixth-year of existence, won the game on a Mike Josifovski 26-yard field goal. Josifovski also connected on a 35-yarder as time expired to send the game into overtime. The final score was 30-27.
• There have been 10 national championship shutouts since the event began in 1956. The last shutout came in 2000 when Georgetown (Ky.) blanked Northwestern Oklahoma State, 20-0. It is also the only shutout since the NAIA moved back to one division in 1997.
• Since the NAIA returned to one division in 1997, the average margin of victory in the championship game is 10.5 points. Eight games have been decided by seven points-or-less, including four out of the last six contest.
• Three of the last four national champions have come from the Mid-States Football Association – Saint Xavier (Ill.) (2011), Marian (Ind.) (2012) and Grand View (Iowa) (2013).
• The lower ranked programs have won eight of the last nine titles.
• Marian and Southern Oregon entered the playoffs as the No. 6 and No. 7 teams in the final regular-season edition of the NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, marking the second-consecutive season that at least one top-five program is not represented in the title game.
• Marian and Southern Oregon shared the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, which marked the first time two teams were tied atop the preseason poll since the NAIA moved to one division in 1997.
• Both teams return a plethora of experience. Marian’s 57-man playoff roster features 37 individuals that suited up for the 2014 contest, while Southern Oregon’s boasts 33.
• The 86 points scored by Southern Oregon (55) and Marian (31) set the national championship single-game record for combined points. The previous standard was set in the 1993 Division I title game when East Central (Okla.) downed Glenville State (W.Va.), 49-35.
• Southern Oregon is appearing in the national championship for the second-straight season and second time in program history. The Raiders are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009. Prior to last year’s title run, Southern Oregon had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals.
• Southern Oregon downed No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan, No. 2 Baker (Kan.) and No. 1 Morningside (Iowa) en route to Saturday’s title game appearance. The Raiders have won seven-straight games in the Football Championship Series (FCS), including five on the road or at a neutral site.
• Southern Oregon boasts an 11-4 all-time FCS record, including a 2-0 mark in the semifinals in six appearances. Additionally, the Raiders have never lost in the first round (6-0).
• Southern Oregon is 3-0 against Mid-States Football Association opponents in the playoffs – McKendree (Ill.) (54-10 in 2001), St. Ambrose (Iowa) (45-28 in 2012) and Marian (55-31 in 2014).
• The Raiders are led on offense by dual threat quarterback Tanner Trosin. The junior transfer from America River CC (Calif.) leads the team in passing with 2,709 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also pacing the squad on the ground with 851 yards and 12 scores. Trosin is completing 66.3 percent (222-for-335) of his passes and has only been intercepted seven times. Arguably his top performance of the season came in the semifinals against Morningside, as the Folsom, Calif., native set season highs for total yards (467) and passing yards (391). He accounted for three touchdowns in the game, with none more important than a 4-yard scamper in the game’s final minutes for what proved to be the game-winning score.
• Wide receiver Matt Retzlaff is the top-target this season for Southern Oregon. The junior, whose brother Ryan Retzlaff won a title last season with Southern Oregon, leads the team in receiving yards with 686 and touchdowns with 4. Retzlaff is second on the squad with 43 catches despite missing three games due to injury.
• Defensive back Julius Rucker, who was named the 2014 NAIA Football National Championship Outstanding Defensive Player, is back as the leader on defense for Southern Oregon. He leads the team with 92 tackles, including four tackles for loss. Rucker owns one interception on the year, which came on Oct. 24 against College of Idaho and was returned 94 yards for a touchdown.
• Southern Oregon is 6-2 against ranked opponents this season.
• Marian, which has won eight-straight, enters the banner game with a 13-3 all-time record in the FCS in five appearances. The Knights have punched a ticket to the title game in three of the last four seasons, highlighted by their previously mentioned national title in 2012.
• The Knights once again showcase one of the NAIA’s best defenses, ranking among the top five in rushing defense per game (76.3), sacks (47), scoring defense per game (14.4) and total defense per game (267.2). Marian owns three shutouts this season, including a 28-0 blanking of then-No. 16 St. Francis (Ill.) on Nov. 7.
• Linebacker Ryan Hartnett leads the team with 113 tackles (49 solo) and is third with 11 tackles for loss. Outside of Hartnett, defensive end Dewayne Beckford is possibly the most disruptive force on defense for the Knights. He leads the team with 17 tackles for loss and a NAIA-best 13 sacks.
• Offensively, Marian features a balanced attack led by quarter back Hayden Northern and wide receiver Krishawn Hogan. Northern, who threw for 495 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s championship game, is fifth in the NAIA in total offense (3,401) and total passing (3,380). Northern has thrown for more than 300 yards five times this year, including a 417-yard effort against Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.). He boasts 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
• Hogan, who is one of the best athletes in NAIA football, leads the NAIA with 1,677 receiving yards on 90 receptions – second-best total nationally. The junior from Indianapolis, Ind., has been nothing short of dominant this postseason. Through three FCS games, Hogan owns an unprecedented 14 touchdowns, including 11 on the ground. He also boasts a streak of 10-straight games with 100-or-more receiving yards.
• Marian is 6-2 against ranked opponents this season.
• The Knights are 0-2 all-time against Frontier Conference opponents in the playoffs, falling to Carroll (Mont.), 38-6, in the 2010 quarterfinals and losing last year in the title game to Southern Oregon.
• Seven teams from the 2014 FCS made the playoffs again this season – Campbellsville (Ky.), Grand View, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Marian, Morningside, Saint Xavier and Southern Oregon.
• Morningside extended postseason appearance streak to 12-straight, which is the longest active stretch in the NAIA.
• Point (Ga.) and Reinhardt (Ga.) were this year’s newcomers to the FCS. Both teams lost in the first round.
• Saint Francis (Ind.), which lost to Marian in the semifinals, was the only team to enter the playoffs unbeaten.
• Ten of the NAIA’s 12 conferences were represented in the first round of the FCS, including multiple programs from the Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), Mid-South Conference West Division (MSCW) and Mid-States Football Association Mideast League. The two conferences that failed to have representation did not have a team in the top 20 of the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, which is a requirement to qualify for postseason in NAIA football.
• The MSCW boasted the most teams in the playoffs with three – Campbellsville, Lindsey Wilson and Reinhardt. All three programs lost in the first round.

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