INDIANAPOLIS– Saint Francis's five-game winning streak and its football season ended Saturday in a 45-34 loss to Marian in the second round of the NAIA playoffs.
It was the second time this year the sixth-ranked Cougars (9-3) lost to fifth-ranked Marian (10-1). Saint Francis lost to the Knights 45-38 in the regular season.
Saint Francis took a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game when Seth Stuart scored on a 1-yard run, but Marian ran off 24 consecutive points to take a commanding lead it never relinquished.
The Cougars got within 24-14 on Akeim Kelsaw's 11-yard pass from quarterback David Yoder, but Marian went up 30-14 on a 98-yard kickoff return from Clifford Brown.
Aaron Knight answered with an 11-yard pass from Yoder early in the fourth quarter, only to have Marian respond with a 15-yard pass from Adam Wiese to John Hasty.
Yet Austin Coleman returned the kickoff 100 yards to make it a 38-28 game, only to have Marian running back Tevin Lake finish off the Cougars with an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:36 left.
Coleman's kickoff return broke the all-time NAIA career record. The senior from Harding has eight kickoff returns for touchdowns.
The Cougars tacked on a late score on a 24-yard pass to Aaron Knight from Yoder with 12 seconds remaining.