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The Journal Gazette

  • Elizabeth Wyman | The Journal Gazette Saint Francis' Matt Crable runs the ball

  • Elizabeth Wyman | The Journal Gazette Martell Williams stretches to the goal line Saturday in Saint Francis' game against Marian in Indianapolis. 

  • Elizabeth Wyman | The Journal Gazette Marian's Charles Salary runs the ball against Saint Francis.

Saturday, October 05, 2019 10:40 pm

Marian 28, Saint Francis 10

Saint Francis falls to Marian

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The two sides of the 50-yard line told the whole story.

On one side, No. 6 Marian cheered and danced as the Knights held up their Franciscan Bowl trophy and fans spilled onto the field in celebration. On the other side, No. 3 Saint Francis huddled around coach Kevin Donley to remember this feeling as the Knights celebrated and fireworks lit up the parking lot.

The Knights beat the Cougars 28-10 Saturday at St. Vincent Field, handing Saint Francis it’s first loss and Mid-States Football Association Mideast League loss.

“We got checked and we gotta respond now,” Donley said. We’ll see them again in about five or six weeks.”

Marian has now won four of the last five meetings and it is likely that the two NAIA powerhouses will see each other again in the postseason.

If they meet again, the Cougars will need to find a way to stop Marian’s Charles Salary, who rushed for 183 yards on 42 attempts for three touchdowns.

He put the Knights (4-0, 1-0 MSFA) up early with touchdown runs of five and 13 yards to put the Copugars in a first-half whole. Both touchdowns were set up by Saint Francis turnovers – a fumble by Martell Williams and a turnover on downs. Marian quarterback Ethan Darter hit Jacob Pressler for a 44-yard touchdown pass late in the second half for the Knights' third touchdown.

Saint Francis quarterback Matt Crable took away positives about what his offense was able to do, which included dominating time of possession and number of plays run in the first half.

“You never want it to be a loss, but at the end of the day, offensively, we moved the ball,” he said. ”We stalled out a couple times and gotta be able to finish drives, but at least we were moving the ball on them.”

Crable, who finished 17 of 37 for 181 yards, and the offense executed a solid two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Bailed out by a defensive pass interference, Crable took four shots to the end zone with time winding down, but none of his targets could haul it in. They had to settle for a Gavin Gardner 19-yard field goal and headed into halftime with an 11-point deficit but riding momentum.

“We got whipped there in the second half, and we didn’t think that was going to happen,” Donley said. “I thought we were confident to end the half, had a great defense and we didn’t execute well on offense, so you learn from this.”

It was the Knights who dominated possession in the second half, which had remnants to what the Cougars did the last time they played at Marian in 2017 – their last victory in the series.

Both teams held each other scoreless in the third, but Darter and Salary displayed an offensive clinic on a 16-play, 85-yard drive that spanned nearly eight minutes and ended with a 14-yard Salary touchdown run. The Knights converted on three third downs and one fourth down to keep the drive alive.

“We gotta have grit, gotta fight, and gotta execute," Donley said. "We gotta make some third-down conversions, and we gotta make some stops on third downs. It’s a possession game and we lost it in the second half.”

Williams, starting at running back for the second consecutive game in place of the injured P.J. Dean, scored the Cougars' only touchdown on a one-yard run in the second quarter. He rushed for 68 yards on 21 carries.

Next up is No. 5 Concordia at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium next week. Concordia scored a go-ahead touchdown as time expired to beat No. 19 Siena Heights on Saturday.

“Anytime that you fall shot you have to respond in a timely manner with a little sense of urgency," Donley said. "And we will do that.”

ewyman@jg.net