Originally Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2012, 7:04 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 11, 2012, 11:57 pm
Bees garner home game; face explosive Southern Oregon
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By Tom Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org
It's almost an ironic twist in the NAIA football playoffs.
The team that pulled off one of Saturday's upsets that allowed the St. Ambrose University football team to move into a Top 8 ranking and in position for a first-round NAIA playoff home game is the team that Fighting Bees will host.
On Saturday at Brady Street Stadium, the No. 8 Fighting Bees (9-1) will entertain No. 10 Southern Oregon (8-2). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
"We root for them one week and root against them the next,'' joked SAU coach Mike Magistrelli.
Southern Oregon handed previously No. 7 Montana Tech a 48-26 setback this past Saturday. That, along with William Penn's 17-12 upset of previously No. 9 Grand View that set up a three-way Mid-States Football Association Midwest League title share, allowed the Bees to move up in the poll.
In Southern Oregon, the Bees will have their hands full with an offense that averages 54.4 points and 657.0 yards per game. Both of those marks are tops in the NAIA.
"They put up some incredible offensive numbers,'' said Magistrelli. "We haven't gotten any film on them yet. We'll have a better idea when we watch the film. They spread it around and chuck it around (463.4 yards passing per game) and mix in the running game with it (193.6 yards per game). ... I think our defensive kids will take that as a challenge.''
It should make for an interesting battle as SAU's defense ranks 13th nationally in points allowed per game (16.3). SAU has allowed 321.8 yards per game (28th nationally).
This is SAU's 12th trip into the Football Championship Series and the Bees have just a 3-11 record. For SOU's Raiders, the Frontier Conference co-champs, this is their first return to the NAIA FCS since 2002.
SAU's last playoff home game came in 2006, a first-round matchup with Morningside, Iowa, in a game that went Morningside's way in double-overtime. This is SAU's fourth home playoff game.
According to NAIA notes, SAU has the most appearances in the FCS of any school to not make it to the title game. In fact, SAU has never reached the quarterfinals. SAU's last opening round victory came in 2003.
The Bees aren't focusing on the past, though. They have won six straight games – as have the Raiders -- and rallied to beat 2011 playoff qualifier St. Francis, Ill., 35-20 this past Saturday to earn their share of the MSFA Midwest League crown.
Now, it's back to work for the Bees.
"It's certainly exciting to be in the playoffs,'' said Magistrelli. "The magnitude of that and you put in some film of Southern Oregon and that will grab our kids' attention right away and get our kids focused and regrouped. Our kids have been waiting for this for a few years. People certainly are ready to get prepared for it.''
Also having to get prepared will be junior quarterback Eric Williamson. After suffering a right ankle injury on the third play of Saturday's game, he missed three series before returning and pacing the offense to 438 yards.
Magistrelli heard reports Sunday that Williamson was not in much pain, but still expected him to have an altered week of practice as he nurses the injury.
"If there's anybody who could handle missing practices and still be ready, it's Eric,'' said Magistrelli after Saturday's game.