#3 Marian decisively won the contest between the two top ten teams from the MSFA East. Concordia fell from #10 to #16 in the polls following this loss. The first half went well for Concordia, though it didn't appear so early on. The Marian defense stopped the Cardinals on their first possession. After receiving the punt, it took the Knights only one play to score from 45-yards out with a pass. 7-0 Marian. After a three and out, Marian mounted a long drive. After 78 yards and 11 plays, Amaan Payne, LB for CUAA, jumped a route for the INT and raced 96 yards for a Cardinal TD. CUAA 7 Marian 7.
The Marian offense now found the going hard. After a stop, CUAA took the ball to the Marian 30-yard line. Wyatt Mast kicked a 47-yard field goal and Concordia took a 10-7 lead late in the 1st quarter. Mast added another FG in the 2nd quarter and that is how the first half ended, 13-7. If you have been reading these summaries all season (LOL), you will know that CUAA has started EVERY game in the hole and have had to dig themselves out in the 2nd half. Cardinal fans felt pretty good about their team going into the half.
Marian had two quick scores early in the 3rd quarter to take the lead 21-13 and they never looked back. The Knights RB Charles Salary was "money" on this day. He gained 309 yards in 46 attempts and one TD. Final score was Marian 28 Concordia 13.
While the Cardinal defense played well in the first half, the size of Marian all across the board wore the defense down and you could really tell this in the 2nd half. They just could not stop Salary. The holes made by the OL would get him into space and he would do the rest. The strategy of the defense early on was to have the LBs cut down the Guards when they pulled and hope the secondary would come up and make the tackle. That worked for awhile. I remember watching Marian last season and thinking these guys are HUGE. It is definitely an advantage.
Marian finished the game 5-0 and the CUAA fell to 5-2. They both belong to the MSFA which is a powerhouse in the NAIA. Four MSFA teams started the season in the top 10 Coaches' Poll. After a stretch of playing 4 ranked opponents in a row, Concordia has made it to an easier part of the schedule, though Indiana Wesleyan has made some strides this season and should not be overlooked. With CUAA now ranked #16 they cannot afford another loss and still get into the playoffs. Marian, having defeated #6 University of St. Francis (IN) and one-time #4 ranked Concordia in back-to-back weeks, has a firm grip on their #3 spot. No one plays a tougher schedule than the MSFA teams, especially in the east division. Hopefully, they don't knock one another out of the playoffs.
Undefeated Lindsey Wilson is sitting at #8 and Cumberlands (KY) at #9 as we go into this week.