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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, October 07, 2017 3:50 pm

No. 1 Saint Francis survives against No. 20 Concordia

GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette

Top-ranked and defending NAIA national champion Saint Francis survived an upset bid from No. 20 Concordia (Michigan) by scoring 17 unanswered points in the final seven minutes for a 35-18 win Saturday at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium. 

The Cougars (6-0, 2-0 MEL) and Cardinals (5-1, 1-1) were tied at 17 before Gavin Gardner kicked his third field, Ryan Johnson returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown, and Justin Green capped the surge off with his third rushing touchdown. Green ran for 154 yards.

Saint Francis trailed 18-15 until another Gardner field goal tied the game at 18 early in the fourth quarter, where the Cougars outscored the Cardinals 20-0.

Saint Francis senior quarterback Nick Ferrer failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since November of 2014, his freshman year. He had thrown at least two touchdown passes in 31 straight games. Ferrer left in the third quarter for one play, with what he described after the game as "getting the wind knocked out of him."

Ferrer was working with a banged-up receiving corps that had Rocky James leave the game in the first quarter. James never returned and was on crutches after the game. James said after the game it was a hyperextended knee, but was looking to return to action.

The game was scoreless after the first quarter, the first time all season the Cougars have failed to score any points in the opening period.