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LWC Football looks to NAIA National Championship Game

By Joel Snyder

The Lindsey Wilson football team has lived by three words since the start of this season, "Make A Way." It's a saying that has flooded social media and has inspired a community to rally around its football team.

Now, through all the uncertainty and question marks surrounding this season, there is one final game to be played.

The Blue Raiders, for the first time in program history, venture down to Louisiana to compete for an NAIA National Championship on Monday, May 10, 2021. The national title game, against the Northwestern Red Raiders, is scheduled for 6pmCT at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium on the campus of Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.

Tickets are available for purchase through Ticketmaster. The game will also be available on ESPN3. The Lindsey Wilson Sports Network will have a live audio feed on May 10, beginning with the pregame show at 5:15pmCT.

Their opponent has steered into the spotlight thanks to a pair of upsets. The first of which coming against No. 2 Grand View (IA), then most recently versus No. 1 Morningside (IA). Despite the adversity, the sixth-ranked Red Raiders of Northwestern (IA) have proven all the skeptics wrong and have rightfully claimed their spot in the program's sixth national title game.

As the Great Plains Athletic Conference runner-up, the Red Raiders have overwhelmed their opponents through the air, ranking at the head of the class with 4,055 total passing yards. First-Team All-American Tyson Kooima is responsible for 3,882 of those yards, helping him to 4,424 yards of total offense. Both of which are top marks in the country. Additionally, the senior has completed 31 passes for touchdowns while rushing for nine more.

Kooima's primary weapon has been Second-Team All-American Shane Solberg. The senior duo has connected 73 times, giving Solberg an NAIA-best 1,567 receiving yards. Solberg was only targeted twice, however, at Morningside in the National Semifinal, leaving most of the work to Cade Moser, who corralled 11 receptions for 303 yards and one touchdown versus the Mustangs.

Northwestern is not as active on the ground, averaging 168.0 rushing yards per game. Konner McQuillan leads the Red Raiders with 623 rushing yards, including eight touchdowns on 130 carries. Nevertheless, the team sits at number eight in Division I with 2,016 total rushing yards.

Northwestern, in all, sports the ninth-highest scoring offense in the NAIA, posting 40.8 points per contest. Their quick-moving offense produces 22.1 first downs per game and is 46.4 percent efficient on third-down conversions.

Defensively, the Red Raiders are limiting their opposition to 20.8 points per outing on 336.0 total yards per game, which ranks 27th and 37th in the NAIA, respectively.

Brett Moser has pestered opposing quarterbacks all season long, collecting a Division I third-best nine total sacks. He has also totaled 12.5 tackles for loss, which leads the Northwestern defense.

In the secondary, Second-Team All-American defensive back Noah Van't Hof and Jake Lynott have each corralled four interceptions, making up half of the Red Raiders total in that category.

The stingy Red Raider defense will undoubtedly have its hands full against a Blue Raider offense that is lighting up the scoreboard with 46.4 points per game, only the second-best mark in all of the NAIA.

The Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division champions have mustered up an impressive resume since opening their season back in February. Lindsey Wilson has defeated five different ranked opponents this season, including No. 4 Keiser (FL) in the National Semifinals.

The locals are led into battle by Second-Team All-American Cameron Dukes.

The senior quarterback ranks number three in the NAIA in pass efficiency -- 182.3 -- and number four in total passing yards -- 2,398. In all, Dukes has completed 168-of-258 passes for 33 touchdowns to ten different receivers. With the help of an additional 373 yards with his feet, Dukes has posted an NAIA eighth-best 277.1 total offensive yards per game, including seven rushing touchdowns.

One of the fifteen different receivers Dukes has turned to this season is All-American Honorable Mention Terrill Cole, whose 13 receiving touchdowns and 846 total receiving yards are ranked third and seventh in the country, respectively. The junior contributed 142 yards and two touchdowns off of seven receptions against Keiser last weekend.

On the ground, First-Team All-Conference running back Jaylen Boyd has flattened out 652 rushing yards en route to eight visits to the endzone. Boyd, who recently became Lindsey Wilson's all-time leading rusher, ranks 31st in the country with 907 all-purpose yards, chipping in ten total scores.

All-American Honorable Mention Joshua Lewis has also provided a spark for the Blue Raider offense this season. In addition to his 558 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, Lewis ranks second and third, respectively, in punt return yards per attempt and total punt return yards, including two house calls.

The Lindsey Wilson defense features a clan talented names, led by All-American Luke Bowman and his team-leading 71 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

The trio of Robert Carter, Michael Leslie, and Marcellus Campbell patrol the secondary, having secured two interceptions each.

As a team, Lindsey Wilson is holding its opposition to 14.5 points per contest, including 14.7 during the NAIA postseason.

This story was posted on 2021-05-06 07:31:50
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