Viking Football Falls to Saint Francis in NAIA FCS First Round

Posted November 19, 2016


Marshall, Mo. (November 19, 2016)- The No. 11 Missouri Valley College football team traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind., Saturday afternoon to play No. 4 University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in the first round of the 2016 NAIA Football Championship Series.  The Vikings jumped out to an early lead on a cold and snowy day, but the Cougars pulled away in the second half to defeat Missouri Valley, 79-20.


The Viking got the ball to start the game, and moved quickly down the field.  Freshman Quarterback Jake Bridges (Park Hills, Mo.) completed his first two pass attempts, including a 36-yard completion to Junior Wide Receiver Dorian Stanard (Daytona Beach, Fla.), to get deep into USF territory.  Two plays later, Freshman Running Back Kenny Sanford (Hilliard, Ohio) gave MVC a lead, with a 16-yard touchdown run.  Sophomore Kicker Austin Johnson (St. Charles, Mo.) made the extra-point, and Missouri Valley held a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes played.


The Cougars answered on their first possession, returning the kickoff back to near midfield.  Saint Francis picked up a 40-yard rushing attempt on the first play of the drive, and scored four plays later to tie the game at 7-7.  The Vikings answered back with another score, this time capping off a four-play drive with a Bridges pass to Junior Wide Receiver Davon Henry (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) for a 51-yard score to give MVC a 14-7 lead with just under six-minutes played in the opening quarter.  Saint Francis wasted little time to answer, getting a 67-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its ensuing drive to tie the score at 14-14.


Missouri Valley started its third drive of the game after a 43-yard kickoff return from Henry.  Taking over near midfield, the Vikings put together a seven-play drive, getting a pair of third-down conversions.  The second conversion came on a third-and-22 when Bridges hit Senior Wide Receiver Jacoby Bellard (Beaumont, Texas) for a 23-yard gain.  The next play featured Bridges hitting Senior Wide Receiver Chvon Richardson (St. Louis, Mo.) for a 16-yard touchdown, but the PAT was not converted, and Missouri Valley held a 20-14 lead with just over five-minutes to play in the first quarter.


Saint Francis started its next drive near midfield, and moved to the MVC 22-yard line after just three plays.  Junior Defensive Back Jahwaun Cassidy (Hannibal, Mo.) broke-up a pass on second down to force a third-and-long for USF.  However, the Cougars converted and finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to claim their first lead of the day 21-20 late in the first quarter.


Bridges opened Missouri Valley’s next drive with a completion to Senior Fullback Cody Hendricks (Hollister, Calif.) to get the ball near midfield.  However, the drive ended with a Bridges interception, giving USF the ball at the MVC 39-yard line.  The first play of the second quarter featured a Saint Francis one-yard touchdown run, and the Cougars extended their lead to 27-20 after the PAT was not converted.  Missouri Valley’s next drive ended with a punt after just five plays, and Saint Francis stated another drive near midfield.  The Cougars rattled off an 11-play drive, that ended in a five-yard touchdown pass completion, putting MVC in a 34-20 deficit midway through the second quarter.


The next two drives ended in punts for Missouri Valley, while Saint Francis added another touchdown with four-minutes remaining in the quarter to put its lead at 41-20.  The Cougars had the final possession of the half, and started at the 50-yard line.  Saint Francis moved to the MVC 10-yard line, and attempted a 27-yard field goal.  The kick was good, and time expired in the first half with USF holding a 44-20 lead.


Saint Francis received the opening kickoff at the start of the second half, but Junior Linebacker Jake King (Blue Springs, Mo.) forced a fumble, which was recovered by Junior Linebacker Joseph Trout (Manteca, Calif.) at the USF 48-yard line.  The Vikings got to the Cougar 31-yard line, but Bridges had another pass intercepted to end the Viking scoring threat.  Saint Francis added to its advantage on the ensuing drive, covering 69 yards in nine plays, and extending its lead to 51-20 with just over eight minutes to play in the third quarter. 


After the Viking offense went three-and-out on its next possession, the MVC defense came up with a stop, helped by a sack from Senior Linebacker Stephen Thayer (Manteca, Calif.).  However, Missouri Valley went three-and-out once again after the defensive stop, and USF started a drive late in the third quarter near midfield.  The Cougars tacked on another touchdown when a fourth down pass completion resulted in a score, putting MVC into a 58-20 deficit.  After another Missouri Valley punt, the Cougars scored one more touchdown in the quarter, putting its lead at 65-20.


Missouri Valley failed to get past the USF 44-yard line in the fourth quarter, and the Cougars added two more touchdowns in the final quarter of play.  The Vikings fell to Saint Francis, 79-20.


Bridges finished the game with 213 yards on 14 of 27 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  Sanford had 30 total yards and one touchdown.  Henry finished with his first 100-yard receiving game, with four receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown.  Henry finished with 187 all-purpose yards.  Missouri Valley finished with 262 total yards.


Defensively, King finished with nine tackles, while Sophomore Linebacker Patrick Overby (El Paso, Texas) had seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery.  Senior Defensive Back Justin Gallegos (San Francisco, Calif.) had six tackles, while Thayer finished with six tackles and two sacks.  The Vikings gave up 613 total yards.


Freshman Punter Aaron Baum (Orlando, Fla.) had an average of 31 yards per punt on seven punts, while Johnson connected on two extra-points.


The loss ends the Missouri Valley season at 9-3, while Saint Francis advances to the NAIA FCS quarterfinals with a 10-1 record.




About Missouri Valley College

Known for its dynamic, richly diverse, and friendly educational environment, Missouri Valley College offers many opportunities to grow in mind, body, and spirit. Grounded in the liberal arts, undergraduate studies empower students to master interdisciplinary skills needed to succeed in a knowledge-based global society. MVC offers over 30 academic programs, study abroad program, extracurricular activities, and 13 sports. The most popular majors include education and business, criminal justice and exercise science. Above all, Valley is committed to student success. For more information, call (660) 831-4000 or visit


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