Saturday, December 11, 2010

What a feeling: DSU advances to D-II national championship game

CLEVELAND — There were road blocks scattered everywhere Saturday in the way of Delta State’s second-ever Division II national championship berth.
The Statesmen were up against a 12-1 Shepherd team who scored 90 points in their last two games; there was a 39-minute lightening delay which turned McCool Stadium into a mudbath; and DSU quarterback Micah Davis threw three picks.
But through it all, the Statesmen (11-3) clawed their way to a 29-17 victory and advanced to this Saturday’s Division II national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth in Florence. Ala. The game is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will be broadcasted live on ESPN2.
Minnesota-Duluth defeated Northwest Missouri State 17-13 Saturday night to advance to the title game.
“I can’t even explain (this feeling),” said DSU running back Trevar Deed, who finished with 105 yards on 20 carries. “A lot of guys are amped up...(But) we still have one more to go. We want to feel the ultimate excitement.”
DSU coach Ron Roberts echoed Deed’s statement and added that there still is work to be done.
“I don’t wanna be satisfied,” said Roberts. “We still have unfinished business.”
DSU felt the same way even before the game concluded. With DSU sporting a 17-14 lead midway through the third quarter, Davis threw his third interception of the game — the last play before the lightening delay.
The break gave the Statesmen a chance to alter their gameplan, Roberts said.
“It was time to hand the ball to Trevar (Deed) and let him do his work,” he said.
Deed kept DSU in the game, but Leland native Garrett Williams dotted the “i” on the national championship berth when he picked off two Kevin Clancy passes — one with less than two minutes remaining.
“He’s done it all year....He’s our guy on defense,” said Roberts. “I think somebody needs to recalculate the All-American honors and make sure (he’s on the list).”
Shepherd scored first capping off a 9-minute first quarter drive with a four-yard TD scamper by Nate Hoyte. But it would be the first and the last time the Rams would have the lead.
Bill Franks scored on a 12-yard reverse run, L.J. Castille caught two touchdown passes (6 and 12 yards) — and Davis connected with his former JUCO teammate Carlton Ollie on a 64-yard toss.
But the most impressive aspect of DSU’s team was their defensive unit. They limited a run-happy Shepherd team to only 69 yards on the ground, a season low.
“We just can’t be stopped as long as we keep playing our game,” said Deed.
And “their game” has catapulted a Statesmen team that was once on the outside looking in — into a team searching for a second national championship, their fist since 2000.
“We don’t want to go home. That’s what we keep saying in the locker room,” Deed added.
Since the season kicked off, Roberts has marketed his team as one of — if not the best in the nation. Now he has some clout to back that statement up.
“That’s the beauty about playing a playoff system, (that) you get a chance to prove it,” said Roberts. “If you are, you’re going to get a chance to prove it.”
NOTES: DSU outgained Shepherd 347 to 281...Micah Davis went 14-of-22 for 193 yards, three TDs and three INTs....L.J. Castille led DSU with five catches for 64 yards and two TD’s.

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