Tribune-Star staff, AP reports
ROME, Ga. —
Ted Karras Jr. coached three seasons at Rose-Hulman, then left in 2006 to start a new program from scratch at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Six years later, Karras and his Knights are national champions.
On Thursday night, kicker Michael 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 a 30-27 victory in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship game.
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 Karras, who had Josifovski kick the winner on third down.
Karras posted records of 5-6, 4-6 and 5-5 during his years at Rose-Hulman, from 2003 to 2005. He went 1-9 in his the first season of football ever at Marian, 2007. A year later, the Knights finished 7-4 and have never been under .500 since. Karras’ cumulative record at Marian is 48-23, and the Knights have won two straight conference titles in the Mid-States Football Association.
In Thursday’s game, 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.
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.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said the senior. “You can’t write this stuff. I couldn’t have ever imagined it would end like this. Growing up you hope that you have a chance to play in a game like this.”
Marian rallied to take a 24-20 lead on Wiese’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Jones with 2:46 remaining.
“We have guys that don’t quit,” Karras said. “We’re true believers and we’re pioneers. We started six years ago. We recruit guys that are hungry to play with a never-say-die attitude. They’re quality guys, they take care of business. Last week we did it like this, this week we did it like this. A lot of people probably counted us out with that minute left but we came right back down and tied it up. Couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”