No. 6-ranked Lindsey Wilson football won the program’s first-ever NAIA Football Championship Series road game on Saturday with a 35-24 win at No. 3-ranked Kansas Wesleyan at Bissell Field.
The Blue Raiders (12-0) advances to the program’s first FCS National Semifinals next Saturday at either No. 1-ranked Morningside (Iowa) or No. 2 Marian (Ind.). NAIA officials are scheduled to announce the semifinal pairings later tonight.
Lindsey Wilson held the Coyotes (12-1) well below their season averages. Kansas Wesleyan entered the game averaging 50.2 points and 533.6 yards of total offense per outing. The Coyotes managed just 24 points and 360 yards on Saturday.
While the Lindsey Wilson defense slowed down the high-powered offense, Cameron Dukes and Jaylen Boyd sparked a Blue Raider balanced offense to 435 yards. Lindsey Wilson finished with 235 yards rushing and 200 yards passing.
While Dukes and Boyd posted the numbers, it was the offensive line that continuously opened holes for the big rushing day and kept Dukes upright against a Coyote team that entered the game averaging nearly four sacks per game.
The Lindsey Wilson defense set the tone early forcing an opening-drive punt after Kansas Wesleyan managed just 18 yards on its first possession.
The Blue Raider offense took the cue from the defense and marched 74 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. Boyd ran for 50 yards during the opening drive and Dukes capped the drive with a 13-yard scamper into the endzone for the lead. Lindsey Wilson never trailed after the opening score.
Boyd rushed for a game-high 155 yards and a touchdown. It was the second straight 100-yard rushing game for Boyd in the playoffs and his eighth of his career -- more than any Blue Raider in the history of the program.
The two defenses held serve for the remaining of the first quarter not yielding another point in the frame.
Kansas Wesleyan needed just three plays into the second quarter to score its first points of the quarterfinals, but the Coyotes were held to a 28-yard field goal by the Blue Raider defense.
Two drives later, Lindsey Wilson used its quick-strike offense to take a double-digit lead.
Dukes completed a pair of passes in the four-play, 54-yard drive, ending with a 43-yard touchdown toss to Joshua Lewis for the 14-3 lead. The 62-second drive marked the 30th touchdown in less than two minutes and the 24h touchdown in four plays or less this season.
Dukes -- who was selected as the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the game -- finished 16-of-27 passing for 192 yards and three passing touchdowns in high winds throughout the game, including wind gusts that exceeded over 60 miles per hour. He also rushed for 47 yards and a score.
Kansas Wesleyan responded with its longest drive of the game. The Coyotes moved the ball 70 yards on 15 plays to cut the deficit to 14-10 with 1:20 left in the half. Kansas Wesleyan converted a pair of fourth-down plays during the drive as Demarco Prewitt punched it in from three yards out for the score. Prewitt finished with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
While Kansas Wesleyan methodically marched down the field, the Coyotes left the Blue Raiders too much time before the break.
Hunter Watkins returned the ensuing kickoff -- following a pair of penalties on the kicker for kicking the ball out of bounds -- to the Lindsey Wilson 45 yard line. Dukes -- who missed part of two series due to an injury -- orchestrated a nine-play, 55-yard scoring drive to give Lindsey Wilson a 21-10 advantage at halftime.
Dukes hit Terrill Cole Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown to cap the drive. Cole finished with seven catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
The Blue Raiders had visions of taking a three-score lead to open the third quarter, but Coyotes forced their second turnover of the game stripping the ball from Dukes in Lindsey Wilson territory.
With a short field, Kansas Wesleyan trimmed the deficit to 21-17 as Johnny Feauto found Richard McCauley with a four-yard touchdown. Feauto who led the NAIA in pass efficiency (205.6), total offense (4,282 yards), and total offense per game (356.8) was limited to 16-of-34 passing for 212 yards and one touchdown.
The Lindsey Wilson defense also sacked Feauto four times while limiting the Coyotes -- who was fifth in the NAIA in third-down conversion -- to just six of 18 third-down conversions.
Lindsey Wilson shook off the turnover with a four-play, 45-yard touchdown drive on its net possession.
Watkins once again set up the Blue Raiders with good field position following a 40-yard kickoff return. Dukes hit Jay Gaudlock with a 19-yard pass and Boyd finished off the drive with a 22-yard run for the 28-17 lead.
In the back-and-forth third quarter, Prewitt scored from the two-yard line to cap a 67-yard drive with 5:31 left in the third to once again pull the Coyotes within four points.
Dukes and Boyd exchanged gains in the ensuing Lindsey Wilson drive that bled into the fourth quarter. On the first play of the fourth, Dukes side-armed a six-yard touchdown toss to Cole to push the Lindsey Wilson lead back to 11 at 35-24.
Like last week in the first-round win over Saint Francis (Ind.), the Lindsey Wilson defense pitched a fourth-quarter shutout. The Blue Raiders held the Coyotes to just 39 yards in the fourth until the final meaningless drive. Kansas Wesleyan finished the quarter with 101 yards in the final frame.
Luke Bowman -- who was named the Defensive MOP -- finished with a game-high 11 tackles, including two tackles for a loss. C.J. Dickerson and Damani Jenkins were outstanding on the defensive line -- combining for 13 tackles, three sacks and four tackles for a loss.
J.T. Lyon added six tackles and a sack and Stevie Miller ended with seven tackles.
With the win, Lindsey Wilson wins its 12th game in a season for the first time and will play its first-ever December game next Saturday.
The NAIA announces the semifinal pairings later tonight.