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Marian rallies to top Morningside in NAIA title game

ROME, Ga. — Michael Josifovski and the Marian Knights spoiled Morningside's perfect season.

Josifovski hit a 35-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime and hit a 26-yarder in the extra session to give Marian (Ind.) a 30-27 victory in the championship game Thursday night.

"I'm disappointed," Morningside coach Ted Ryan said. "We made some plays down the end to give ourselves a chance to win. I thought we were going to do it. It just didn't happen."

Marian (12-1) won its first national title in only its sixth season of football, while Morningside (13-1) fell short in the Iowa school's first title game and ninth straight trip to playoffs.

In the semifinals, Josifovski made a 51-yard field goal on the final play for a 20-17 victory over Missouri Valley College.

"He's got a great leg. We call him 'Megafoot,'" said Marian coach Ted Karras Jr., who had Josifovski kick the winner on third down.

Adam Wiese was 25 of 39 for 233 yards and a touchdown for the Knights, and Tevin Lake rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

Joel Nixon was 22 of 39 for 228 yards and two touchdowns for Morningside, and Fred Jones ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Nixon also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

"The turnovers made a difference, the kicking game made a difference," Ryan said.

Morningside, which had missed an extra point, passed up a field-goal chance on the first possession in overtime, and Marian's Danny Rojas broke up Nixon's fourth-and-3 pass to Joel McCabe.

Josifovski made the Mustangs pay, booting the overtime winner on third down.

Morningside won its other overtime game in the postseason, edging Southern Oregon 47-44 in overtime in a quarterfinal contest. Entering the playoffs, Morningside had outscored its opponents by an average of 45.7 to 5.7.