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Originally published: 2013-12-22 22:01:24
Last modified: 2013-12-22 22:01:24

Lenoir-Rhyne football team falls in Division II finals

by Staff Reports

FLORENCE, Ala. -- One of the greatest seasons in Lenoir-Rhyne football history came to an end for Bears in a 43-28 setback to Northwest Missouri State Saturday in the 2013 NCAA Division II Football Championship at Braly Municipal Stadium.

The Bears (13-2), ranked No. 13 in NCAA Division II and riding a 13-game winning streak, fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter and never recovered.

Northwest Missouri State, ranked second in the country, won their fourth national championship in school history after winning in 1998, 1999 and 2009. The Bearcats finish the year with a perfect 15-0 mark.

Northwest Missouri State quarterback Trevor Adams passed for 277 yards and three touchdowns, while Reuben Thomas caught two scores in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Lenoir-Rhyne cut the first quarter deficit to 17-7 on a three-yard touchdown run by junior fullback Chris Robinson with 1:16 remaining in the opening period but the Bears couldn't get any closer the rest of the way.

Thomas' 30-yard touchdown reception from Adams increased the Bearcats' lead to 29-7 midway through the third quarter and Northwest Missouri State was able to match touchdowns with Lenoir-Rhyne the rest of the way.

Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore wide receiver Greyson Wells, an Ashe County High alum,  caught touchdown passes of 59 and 34 yards, respectively, in the setback. 

Lenoir-Rhyne senior quarterback Josh Justice added a touchdown passing and rushing and junior halfback Jarrod Spears led all rushers with 108 yards but the Bears lost two fumbles which led to scores by Northwest Missouri State.

On defense, Northwest Missouri State's D.J. Gnader led all tacklers with 12 while Lenoir-Rhyne senior defensive back O'Neil Blake finished with team-high 11 takedowns.

Bears junior defensive lineman Blake Baker finished with two quarterback sacks, but the Bearcats ran 412 yards of total offense in the win.

Lenoir-Rhyne ran for 273 yards and finished the season as NCAA's all-time leader in rushing yards in a single season with 5,563.  The Bears also set a school record for wins in a single season with 13, and is now 1-3 in all-time in national championship games. 

Lenoir-Rhyne won the NAIA National Championship in 1960 and went to the finals in both 1959 and 1962.