NAIA Football: Around the NAIAtion Week 2

Football is HERE! Everyone is playing, teams are getting upset and we’ve already got questions on what’s going to happen this year. We’ve finally gotten a look at all of the NAIA and we can start making some estimations on what to see this coming season. We’ve also seen our first baseball/football score of the season with William Penn beating Missouri Baptist, 6-2!

As I do every week, let’s take a look at what happened last weekend and give some predictions for what’s to come this week.

No. 1 Northwestern (Iowa) defeated GPAC conference foe Concordia, 48-35. NWC led 21-7 at the half before Concordia made it interesting by putting up 21 points in the 3rd quarter. Northwestern still led 35-28 going into the fourth before pulling out the victory. NWC QB Jalyn Gramstad was 20-25 for 227 yards and three scores through the air while adding 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Konner McQuillan pounded out 252 yards on the ground on 19 carries for two scores as well. Michael Story had 11 catches for 159 yards for the Red Raiders. Concordia QB DJ McGarvie was 33-53 for 413 yards and three scores. I’m gonna be honest, the No. 1 team in the country played this game much closer than I thought they would.

No. 2 Keiser dropped a Thursday night name to Mississippi College, 17-14. MC kicked a field goal with 8:08 left to play to break the 14-14 tied. Keiser got the ball back two times before the end of the game but couldn’t pull out the victory. The Seahawks were held to 189 yards of total offense in the loss. Things don’t get any easier this week for Keiser as they travel to Columbia, Ky. to take on Lindsey Wilson.

No. 3 Grand View dominated RV MidAmerica Nazarene, 24-7. The Vikings led 24-0 before MNU scored late to break the shutout. Avery Gates eclipsed the century mark, rushing for 105 yards. Gates also added 32 receiving yards and a score. Jackson Waring added 72 yards on the ground and two scores. QB Jackson Waring was 11-19 for 117 yards. Grand View looked the part this week.

No. 6 Marian University put up 525 yards of total offense in a 40-6 victory over Judson. MU RB William Gibson ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Knights offense. Judson should prove to be a good tune up for this week’s game against SXU. Marian has a solid squad and this week’s game will be a great one.

No. 13 Saint Xavier and Saint Francis (Ind.) played to a 28-28 tie at half before SXU opened the gates in the second half and ground out a 45-28 victory. USF led 14-0 before SXU tied the game with 4:21 left to play in the first quarter. USF then went up 28-14 before the lights went out on offense and SXU put up the next five scores in the game. Overall, SXU put up 527 total yards. Amari Venerable had 136 yards rushing and two TDs. Justin Pringle hauled in four catches for 79 yards and two scores.

No. 11 Southwestern jumped out to a 35-7 lead over No. 18 Avila before the Eagles battled back to make things interesting late in the 4th quarter. Avila scored with 34 seconds left to play to make it 49-41. The two point conversion failed and Avila was unable to recover the onside kick attempt. Moundbuilder QB Braden Howell was 22-35 for 351 yards. His main target was Andre Jones who hauled in 5 catches for 102 yards. Avila QB Eli Williams was 21-43 for 205 yards while adding 20 carries for 183 yards and two scores. Southwestern has another tough one this week against Kansas Wesleyan.

No. 21 Texas Wesleyan opened the season with a big conference win at home over No. 17 Ottawa (Ariz.), 36-20. OUAZ struggled in the turnover department giving up three interceptions and two fumbles. TWU capitalized on some big plays including a 73 yard touchdown run by Ernest Ceasar. Caesar finished with 115 yards for the Rams.

This Week:
It’s a big week to start to see some separation in the NAIA. There’s a lot of great matchups in the Top 25 as well as a big test for the NAIA’s No. 1 team. Next Monday will be the first installment of the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll and we will no doubt see some changes among the nation’s best. This week grants opportunities for a couple teams to even up their records at 1-1 or potentially fall to 0-2. The likelihood of staying in the Top 25 after a winless start is few and far between.

No. 7 Benedictine at Graceland: This game has upset written all over it. Graceland has had the hot hand the first two weeks of the year. Their offense has put up monster numbers. Benedictine has been tested too and are coming off a win over Clarke last week. I’ll give the upper hand to the Raven’s this week in the game that intrigues me the most on the NAIA schedule. Benedictine 31 Graceland 28.

No. 20 Kansas Wesleyan at No. 11 Southwestern: KCAC Showdown with two of the best reps of the conference. Southwestern had a stout defense last year but gave up a ton of second half points last week. KWU evened their record at 1-1 with a 31-3 victory over Bethany. I see QB Braden Howell the difference in this one. Southwestern 24 KWU 17.

No. 2 Keiser at No. 9 Lindsey Wilson: Keiser needs the win to even up their record as they have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. Lindsey Wilson has a solid squad and gets this one at home. Keiser gets this one, but it’s close. Keiser 21 LWC 17.

No. 1 Northwestern at D1 FCS Drake: Drake is a DI FCS Non-Scholarship school coming off a 55-7 loss to the University of North Dakota. Northwestern is in a tough spot. They need to win this game but it’s not cut and dried. They actually have a lot more to lose than Drake. A win keeps them as a solid No. 1 next week, a loss likely drops them a few spots. NWC 24 Drake 21.

No. 13 Saint Xavier at No. 6 Marian: MSFA’s top teams face off for an early test of two perennial NAIA powers. SXU started slow last week before they got going. They can’t do that this week against this very tough Marian team. Marian is at home and I think is just a little further along at this point in the season. Marian 27 SXU 20.

RV Southeastern (Fla.) at No. 10 Reinhardt: We find out a lot about these teams this week. Southeastern lost to a higher division school last week and Reinhardt dominated Faulker last week. So we don’t really know what either side has quite yet. I’m leaning towards the Eagles. RU 31 SEU 21.

No. 14 St. Thomas (Fla.) at No. 15 Carroll College: This one will be interesting. I love when teams from across the country play one another in non-conference games like this. If STU get’s off the plane and is ready to compete, this could be a great one. Rontavious Farmer of St. Thomas rushed for 226 yards last week against Stetson. If he get’s going, that could be what puts STU over the top. I give Carroll the edge but in a close game. Carroll 24 STU 21.

The Full Slate: (Winners Predicted in Bold)

Arkansas Baptist College at Louisiana Christian 7:00 PM
Avila (MO) at Friends (KS) 7:00 PM
Benedictine at Graceland 7:00 PM
Briar Cliff (IA) at Midland 2:00 PM
Campbellsville (KY) at Kentucky Christian 7:00 PM
Central Methodist at Culver-Stockton (MO) 7:00 PM
Clarke (IA) at Baker 12:00 PM
Concordia (MI) at Olivet Nazarene 1:00 PM
Concordia (Neb.) at Jamestown (N.D.) * 2:00 PM
Cumberlands at Union 7:00 PM
Dakota State (SD) at Waldorf * 5:00 PM
Dakota Wesleyan (SD) at Doane (NE) 2:00 PM
Dickinson State (ND) at Wisconsin-Stout 2:00 PM
Kansas Wesleyan at Southwestern 7:00 PM
Keiser at Lindsey Wilson 1:00 PM
Madonna at Quincy 2:00 PM
MidAmerica Nazarene at Peru State 7:00 PM
Missouri Baptist at Grand View 1:00 PM
Missouri Valley at William Penn (Iowa) 7:00 PM
Montana Tech at Central Washington University 7:00 PM
Montana Western at College of Idaho 4:00 PM
Morningside (Iowa) at Hastings 2:00 PM
Mount Marty at Dordt (IA) 2:00 PM
North American at Texas Wesleyan 8:00 PM
Northwestern at Drake 7:00 PM
Oklahoma Panhandle State at Wayland Baptist (TX) 7:00 PM
Ottawa at Bethel (KS) 7:00 PM
Pikeville at Georgetown (Ky.) 1:30 PM
SAGU at Howard Payne University 7:00 PM
Saint Francis (Ind.) at St. Francis (Ill.) 2:00 PM
Saint Mary at McPherson 7:00 PM
Saint Xavier at Marian 6:05 PM
Siena Heights at Roosevelt 3:00 PM
Southeastern (Fla.) at Reinhardt 12:00 PM
St. Ambrose at Upper Iowa 4:00 PM
St. Andrews at Bethel (TN) 1:00 PM
St. Thomas at Carroll (MT) 3:07 PM
Sterling at Evangel (MO) 7:00 PM
Tabor at Bethany (KS) 8:00 PM
Taylor at Butler 1:00 PM
Texas College at Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
Thomas at Point 12:00 PM
University of Fort Lauderdale at Warner (FL) 6:00 PM
Valparaiso University at Indiana Wesleyan 6:00 PM
Whitworth University at Eastern Oregon 4:00 PM

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