[MSFA] Title races decided in final week of regular season

On the first play from scrimmage in overtime, Amari Venerable broke free for the 25-yard rushing TD, as No. 14 Saint Xavier secured the win, a share of the MSFA Midwest League title, and a likely NAIA FCS spot, defeating No. 20 St. Francis (Ill.) 26-20.

The Saints jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, following a Perre’ Barbarin TD run and a 29-yard field goal from Brian Maday. Venerable’s first TD run of the day put the Cougars on the board, taking advantage of a short field thanks to Ryan Fitzgerald’s punt block. SXU took their first lead of the day after Justin Pringle’s 2-yard TD run, and the Cougars held a 14-10 lead at the break.

Trailing after Pringle’s second score of the day late in the third quarter, St. Francis rallied late, tying the game on a 29-yard TD pass from Sam Tumilty to Ravon Johnson with 14:32 left in regulation. Both sides missed out on potential game-winning kicks, and the game headed to overtime.

The SXU defense set the stage for Venerable, blocking a field goal attempt to end the Saints’ overtime possession. Venerable then scored for SXU on the next play from scrimmage, securing the Cougars’ tenth MSFA championship in program history.

Stuart Ross finished with 106 passing yards and a TD for Saint Xavier, completing 16 of 21 attempts. Matthew Chavers led SXU in rushing with 85 yards on 14 carries, while Pringle brought in eight catches for 77 yards. Caleb Marconi collected 14 tackles and forced a fumble for the Cougar defense.

Sam Tumilty rushed for 235 yards and threw for another 134 with a passing TD as the anchor of the Saints’ attack. Johnson collected 57 yards on two receptions, and Scott Tumilty led the USF defense with 14 tackles.

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