The Lindenwood Lions, ranked third in the nation in NAIA football returned to #2 Carroll, Montana and won 42-35 to advance to the NAIA national title game. This was a rematch of last year’s 38-37 when Lindenwood went for a two point conversion and failed.
Lindenwood jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter on a Philip Staback quarterback keep and a Staback pass to Matt Bramow. In the second quarter, the offenses of both teams dominated and the Lions went into halftime with a 28-21 advantage. The Lions’ two touchdowns both came on touchdown runs by Denodus O’Bryant.
O’Bryant scored again early in the third quarter on a 10-yard touchdown reception from Staback. Carroll answered though with two straight touchdowns, the final one coming six seconds into the fourth quarter which tied the game at 35.
The defenses took over for much of the fourth quarter. After a Lindenwood turnover deep in Carroll territory, the Lions’ defense forced a turnover on downs. Both teams punted twice after that, with the final punt giving the Lions the ball at their 12 yard line.
On the first play, Staback completed a 49 yard pass to Marcel Thompson to put the ball into Carroll territory. On the next play, O’Bryant rushed for 29 yards to take the ball to the 10 yard line. After two rushes for no gain, Staback found Bramow in the corner of the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown reception with 49 seconds remaining.
Carroll completed one first down on its final drive but Lindenwood forced another turnover on downs to seal the victory and a trip to Rome, Ga. for the program’s first ever appearance in the NAIA Football National Championship Game.
Lindenwood finished with 568 yards of offense against the No. 2 defense in the NAIA, with 194 on the ground and 374 through the air. Carroll rushed for 310 yards, but had just 49 yards passing. Lindenwood turned the ball over three times and did not force any. However, it held the Saints, the number one team in the NAIA in third-down conversion, to just two-of-13 in those situations for the game.
Staback completed 25-of-35 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. O’Bryant rushed for 147 yards and two scores. Bramow had seven catches, two for touchdowns, and 79 receiving yards. Rudy Fleming had seven catches for 70 receiving yards and Thompson finished with 98 receiving yards on three catches.
Brandon Gould and Logen Wright each had a team-high eight tackles to lead the Lindenwood defense.
Story courtesy of Lindenwood athletics.