The Prospector (Helena, Mont.) 1916-2015, December 07, 2007, Image 14

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Page 14 Carroll earns spot in NAIA title game! By TeffWindmueller Independent Record—1 2 /0 2 /0 7 Tennessee is calling, and the Carroll College football team has answered. In two weeks, the No. 2 Saints will be headed to Savannah, Tenn., for another shot at the NAIA cham­ pionship after defeating No. 5 St. Francis (Ind.) 23-7 Saturday in a semifinal game at Nelson Stadium. It was the fourth time the two teams met up in the playoffs, and the fourth time the Cougars fin­ ished a season empty-handed. The Saints defeated them in the 2004 and 2005 national title games as well as the 2003 semifinal on their way to four straight champi­ onships. Now, Carroll will have to pre­ pare to face Sioux Falls (S.D.) who defeted Missouri Valley College 11-10 in the semifinals. \This team deserves it,\ said Carroll head coach Mike Van Di- est. \We played well every time we played them, we played great defense every time we played them and I think that's been the real key. \Today the offense was able to run the football, and boy, the offen­ sive line and defensive lines need to be congratulated.\ Facing the fifth-ranked rush­ ing offense in the nation, the Saints dominated the line of scrimmage. The Cougars, with four running backs sharing snaps, were able to pick up just 87 yards on the ground as junior linebacker Owen Koep- pen once again led the Saints with eight tackles and a forced fumble to gain defensive player of the game honors. \Our coach put us in great posi­ tion all the time and our defensive line really controlled the line of position,\ Koeppen said The offense didn't do bad either. * After Carroll gave up an early touchdown on junior quarterback Jeff Wedding's 72-yard touchdown 1001 N Last Chance Gulch (406) 442-4474 pass to Bo Thompson, the Saints' offensive line began manhandling the Cougars and opened up all kinds of room for sophomore run­ ning back Gabe Le. He carried eight times on the next possession, breaking for three first downs and setting up senior Marcus Miller for his first of three field goals at the 4:42 mark. Le would finish with 94 yards in the first half and 154 on the game. Miller, meanwhile, nailed two more field goals by the end of the half and the Saints defense held the Cougars to short yardage each series, rallying to a 9-7 lead at the break. It took until the 8:45 mark in the third quarter, but the Saints got their first touchdown on the day for a 16-7 lead. \They did a great job*\ Barnett said about his offensive line. \We got man-handled that first drive. We had to really step on that ac­ celerator and they did a great job when we got into our two-tight end set.\ The Saints defense followed up the score when Koeppen cracked Thompson along the sideline, forcing a fumble. Senior defensive end Phil Lenoue came up with the ball, but three plays later senior receiver David Whitmoyer would take a hit along the sideline, popping the ball free once more. The Cougars regained control but it was short-lived. The Saints fumbled three times in the game, giving it up just that once. Thompson would drop the ball twice for St. Francis, both times getting picked up by a Car- roll player. The Cougar defense began to clamp down on Le and the running game. After two short runs and a false start, the Saints found them­ selves on third-and-12. But with a safety trailing him to the inside, junior receiver Brian Sloan cut out­ ward to find the perfect spiraling ball fall right at his hands. Sloan broke away for a 6 5-yard touch­ down, his first of the year. \I knew I had (the defender), but he tried to get underneath it,\ Sloan said. \John just threw it hard enough that he couldn't make a play on it.\ \It was a great ball, it was on the money,\ Van Diest said. \And Brian did a great job stretching out and catching it. He's an unsung hero and he's unselfish.\ Barnett finished the game 14-for-24 for 177 yards with no in­ terceptions while Sloan's 75 yards on two receptions led the team in yardage. Dan Lovin and David Whitmoyer finished the game with four catches for 22 and 17 yards, respectively. Browne finished with 57 yards on three catches. Heading to their fifth national championship game in six years, the Saints have grinded their way to a 14-0 record with heavy thanks to a strong group of seniors. \We couldn't do it without the senior class, they're very special and there's a bunch of them that have come from different places,\ Van Diest said. That goes from players like defensive linemen Nick Gilchrist and Will Hamilton, who both trans­ ferred to the Saints from other col­ leges, to players like comer Nick Milodragovich, who has been on the field since he was a true freshman and showed one of his strongest performances on Saturday. \Nick Milodragovich I thought was a great player too,\ Van Diest said. \He had an interception and caused a fumble, he shut down their guys on the outside, and you just can't say enough about those two comers.\ \It was just phenomenal how well they played.\ After having their last four games in the cold confines of Nel­ son Stadium, the Saints can't wait for the warmth that awaits them in Tennessee. \Nothing sweeter than Tennes­ see especially for your last game,\ Barnett said. \Being the last game in Nelson Stadium, I'm never going to be able to suit up in that locker room for a game, never going to be able to prepare like you have. It's nice to come off with a W, and come off with a complete game.\ One year after the Saints fell short in the quarterfinals with a 14-7 loss, Barnett has now guided them back to the title game. \For two years I think they've had that hanging over his head about Tyler Emmert taking us to Tennessee,\ Van Diest said. \Well John Barnett's taken us to Tennes­ see as well. I'm proud of him.\ This team deserves it. ! 0 V i; ! ... ! t/fil i«J —Coach Van Diest 3131 TUCK FECH continued from page 5 infamous ‘Tuck Fech’ T-shirts. Keep the language clean. Know that you represent Carroll to the larger community.” Three of these four were completely, wholeheartedly pres­ ent at the Tech game, just like I’ve always seen them be. The student crowd supported their team with enthusiasm. As far as I could tell, no one was cursing like sailors. I was proud of the team, the cheerleaders, and the student fans in their suc­ cess representing Carroll. But, yes, students were wearing Tuck Fech shirts. A third choice for the admin­ istration in dealing with Tuck Fech is to ignore it. Every year, Tuck Fech shirt sales and related events get free publicity from the administration. Drew Garrison, a junior and a big part of the Carroll Crazies, said, “The administration has made these shirts so infamous and I credit them with the record breaking sales we had this year.” Each year I’ve encountered many students who’ve never heard of Tuck Fech, but when they read the admonishment from the administration they go off in search o f more informa­ tion. Even if inadvertently, the administration only adds num­ bers to the group they’re oppos­ ing. Perhaps the administration should initiate Carroll spon­ sored Tech rivalry celebrations. Students have shown they love shirts, so the administration could undercut Tuck Fech sales by selling their own clean Tech rivalry shirts. Carroll could have their own pre-game breakfast to rally the student fans. They could provide food, body painting materials, non-alcoholic entertainment, play loud music, and provide some energy drinks with un­ healthy levels of caffeine. Who really enjoys drinking beer short­ ly after waking up anyway? To the administration I sug­ gest, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, but do it with your own rules. Carroll certainly has many more advantages for advertising their events to students, com­ pared to the Crazies. And if the administration really wants to make a statement against Tuck Fech shirts, they’ll stop provid­ ing free advertisements through mass e-mails and blogs con­ demning them. Friday, December 7,2007 Volume 01, No 3

The Prospector (Helena, Mont.), 07 Dec. 2007, located at <>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.