DAVENPORT, Iowa — The St. Ambrose football team went into halftime with all the momentum on its side.
In the second half, though, the Fighting Bees found none.
10th-ranked Southern Oregon knocked eighth-ranked Ambrose out of the NAIA playoffs 45-28 at Brady Street Stadium on Saturday. The Raiders scored 28 points in the fourth quarter while shutting out Ambrose in the second half.
"I don't think they did anything special compared to what they did in the first half," Bees junior quarterback Eric Williamson said. "They may have sent more pressure. We couldn't get our run game going, and we got pinned down in our own end a couple of times."
The Raiders (9-2), who have won seven games in a row, will find out who their quarterfinal opponent will be, and where that game will be played, today when the NAIA announces the elite eight pairings.
The Bees (9-2) rolled into halftime, scoring 22 unanswered points in the second quarter while getting good play from all three phases. The defense forced three second-quarter turnovers. On offense, Williamson threw a 46-yard touchdown to Sam O'Donnell and ran for another while senior running back Anton Wilkins scored on a 17-yard run. Freshman Quinn Treiber hit a 21-yard field goal as time expired to send Ambrose into halftime up 28-17.
"We game planned for most of it, but we didn't get to spend the time on it like you normally do," Bees cornerback Jordan Bell said. "You just got to touch things and go on the fly. In the first half, we took care of it, but in the second half, they made some adjustments and we couldn't pull it out in the end."
That good play in the second quarter would be the highlight of the afternoon for the Bees.
In the second half, St. Ambrose managed only 140 total yards with 12 of those coming on the ground. Freshman receiver Zach Grant was held to four catches for 38 yards.
Southern Oregon, the No. 1 scoring team in the NAIA during the regular season, took the opening kickoff and cruised down the field for an early touchdown. The Bees defense stymied the Raiders' attack in the middle two quarters, but SOU found life in the fourth as sophomore Austin Dodge tossed two touchdowns and Manny Barragan ran for another before Josh Leff returned a Williamson pass 39 yards for a touchdown to ice the game.
Barragan rushed for 192 yards and SOU finished with 547 total, well below its average but good enough thanks to Leff (two interceptions) and the rest of the Raider defense.
"They had forced us to make some mistakes," Southern Oregon coach Craig Howard said. "We were on the verge of panic. They pushed us right to the edge at halftime. I think our coaches and our players did a good job of not panicking. I take my hat off to their coaching staff. They had them well prepared, and their pass rush was the best we seen all year."
For the Bees, it was all about failing to capitalize.
"We had some chances there to make a statement at the start of the second half and put some pressure back on them," Ambrose coach Mike Magistrelli said. "We missed some opportunities there in the second half."
Dodge completed 28 of 51 passes for 307 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cole McKenzie on third-and-goal to give the Raiders the lead for good, 31-28, with 11:03 to go in the game. After the teams traded possessions, SOU's Mike Olson returned a punt 37 yards to set up the Raiders at the St. Ambrose 34. Seven plays later, Barragan charged into the end zone on third-and-8 from the nine, extending SOU's lead to 38-28.
No. 10 Southern Oregon 45,No. 8 St. Ambrose 28
At Brady Street Stadium
Southern Oregon 17 0 0 28 —45
St. Ambrose 6 22 0 0 —28
SOU — Olson 4 run (Amsler kick)
SAU — Wilkins 19 run (kick failed)
SOU — Olson 17 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — FG Amsler 20
SAU — Williamson 4 run (run failed)
SAU — O'Donnell 46 pass from Williamson (run failed)
SAU — Wilkins 17 run (Treiber kick)
SAU — FG Treiber 21
SOU — Donahue 32 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — McKenzie 5 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — Barragan 9 run (Amsler kick)
SOU — Leff 39 interception return (Amsler kick)
First Downs 31 23
Rushes-Yards 54-240 31-163
Passing Yards 307 309
Comp-Att-Int 28-51-1 26-43-2
Total Yards 547 472
Punts 3-24 7-37.6
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-36 5-50
Southern Oregon — Barragan 30-192, Marshall 12-41, Dodge 3-7, Olson 7-3, team 2-(-3).
St. Ambrose — Kelly 22-143, Wilkins 2-36, Klingler 1-(-3), Williamson 6-(-13).
Southern Oregon — Dodge 28-51-1 307.
St. Ambrose — Williamson 26-42-2 309, Wilkins 0-1-0 0.
Southern Oregon — Donahue 6-83, Barragan 6-47, Olson 5-81, McKenzie 4-39, Marshall 3-21, Sierra 2-30, Kirkpatrick 1-5, Otaguro 1-1.
St. Ambrose — O'Donnell 9-157, Grant 4-38, Munro 3-43, Cappaert 3-30, Kelly 2-24, Overstreet 1-12, Friederich 1-7, Wilkins 1-(-1), Williamson 1-(-1).