FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Saint Francis got its best test of the season from Cumberlands on Saturday, but the host Cougars managed to prevail 31-20 in one of three NAIA Football Championship quarterfinal games.
The third-ranked Cougars remained unbeaten by outscoring Cumberlands 17-7 in the second half.
The Cougars, who advanced to their sixth consecutive NAIA FCS semifinal game, will play at No. 2 Sioux Falls or No. 1 Carroll next Saturday.
Daniel Carter, who scored two TDs and rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries, was selected NAIA Offense Player of the Game. Strong safety Sam Miles was chosen NAIA Defense Player of the Game after he recorded 17 tackles, seven of them solo.
Cumberlands, which came into the game with 10 consecutive wins, took a 6-0 lead on a Freddy West 1-yard run with 1:24 to play in the first quarter. USF's Mark Drobac blocked the extra point attempt.
Saint Francis bounced back when Bo Frye powered in from the 8-yard line for a 7-6 lead with 14:26 to play in the second quarter.
UC retaliated with a Justin Pritchett 1-yard run and Hunter Meade pushed the Patriots' lead to 13-7 with 2:31 to play in the half. The Cougars then went 58 yards in seven plays with Carter scoring on a 9-yard run.
Carter scored his second TD of the game on a 1-yard run at 10:12 in the third quarter to make it 21-13. Senior quarterback Jeff Wedding connected with Kyle Peabody for a 35-yard touchdown pass with five seconds to play in the third quarter to make it 28-13.
The Patriots (10-2) kept it interesting as West scored on a 1-yard dive with 9:03 to play in the fourth quarter.
Rhys Barnhart finished the scoring by kicking a 30-yard field goal with 4:54 to play for a 31-20 Cougars advantage.