Coming back a year later—on the same field against the same opponent—to win the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics football championship was very special for Marian University. The way the Knights did it, with a dominating defensive effort against a team that had scored 55 points against them last year, made it even sweeter.
"We just knew 55 points, that's not acceptable for our defense," linebacker Dewayne Beckord said after Marian's 31-14 victory over Southern Oregon on Saturday night. "We were really looking for the goose egg today. That's been the mind set all week, but they got the 14."
Maurice Woodard and Krishawn Hogan each scored two touchdowns as the Indianapolis university (12-2) won its second championship in four years. Not bad for a school that didn't even have a football program a decade ago.
"Our players worked extremely hard, literally for 365 days, in order to make this happen," coach Mark Menninger said. "For them to be able to experience this and play the way they did. ... I couldn't be prouder."
Marian's first championship came in 2012 with a 30-27 win over Morningside of Iowa.
Southern Oregon (11-3) averaged 499.9 yards in its first 13 games, but gained only 208 against Marian — most of it in the fourth quarter.
Hogan caught 11 passes for 147 yards and scored his 30th and 31st touchdowns of the season, one on a 2-yard run and another on a 55-yard catch in the fourth quarter when he dragged Raider defenders into the end zone for the final 10 yards.
It was Hogan's fumble—Marian's only turnover—that got the Knights rolling midway through the first quarter.
"I was pretty upset with myself," said the 6-foot-4 junior receiver. "I had talked all week about no turnovers, and then to fumble the ball while trying to make a play, I mean you're really upset. But I know the game was still 0-0 and our defense was playing great, so I knew that wouldn't be the deciding factor."
Marian drove 77 yards on 13 plays to break a 0-0 tie with 4:55 left in the first half. Woodard, who finished with 77 rushing yards, got his first seven carries of the game on that drive, including the 19-yard touchdown run.
After forcing a quick punt, Marian drove 44 yards on seven plays to take a 14-0 lead.
Hogan took direct snaps on the last two plays, running 10 yards for a first down at the Southern Oregon 2 and then diving into the end zone for his 30th touchdown of the season to put the Knights up 14-0.
The Raiders, who won last year's game 55-31, never got any closer.
"One of the things I told them at halftime was to go out there and have some fun," said Southern Oregon coach Craig Howard. "I don't think we were having fun in the first half. We came out in the second half and had a little more fun, but it's never fun to lose."
Hogan scored again on the 55-yard pass from Hayden Northern midway through the fourth quarter, his 16th touchdown in four post-season games.
Wide receiver Jeremy Scottow took a lateral on a bounce and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Matt Retzlaff for the Raiders' first touchdown with 11:28 remaining. Retzlaff caught another TD pass from Tanner Trosin with 51 seconds left.
Southern Oregon gained only 44 yards on 22 rushing attempts against a defense that had been yielding just 76 yards per game on the ground. The Knights held their last seven opponents to just 55 points and their last four victories all came against teams ranked among the top 11 in NAIA.