Heart Athletic News
Football - Sat, Nov. 19, 2011
OLATHE, Kan. - Junior QB Tyler Herl came off the bench and amassed 201 yards of total offense and three touchdowns to lead #4-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) to a 40-28 win over Southern Nazarene (Okla.), Saturday afternoon in the first round of the 2011 NAIA Football Championship Series at Pioneer Stadium.

Herl came into the game early in the second quarter after starting QB Sean Ransburg suffered an injury and was unable to return. Herl finished the game 7-of-15 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 79 yards and a pair of scores to take Offensive Player of the Game honors.

After its defense forced a 3-and-out on the opening possession of the game, MNU needed just two plays to get on the scoreboard and take a lead it would never relinquish. Sophomore RB James Tillman rushed 23 yards on the first offensive play for the Pioneers before Ransburg darted 33 yards on the next play for a 6-0 lead.

The Pioneers survived a pair of lost fumbles and a 4th down stand on defense before scoring its second touchdown of the game. Two plays after the second fumble, Jared Moyston picked off a pass that was initially tipped by Branden Griffin and returned the ball to the SNU 11. Tillman went the distance on the next play for a 13-0 advantage.

With wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour making any downfield throws difficult, SNU QB Brady Wardlaw managed to tame the wind for a pair of throws early in the second quarter to account for the first points of the game for the Crimson Storm. Following a 19-yard completion to Jordan Newby, Wardlaw hit Jarod Martin in stride down the sideline for a 39-yard scoring throw to cut the deficit to 13-7.

With Ransburg going down at the end of the preceding drive, the offense took some time to get going with Herl under center. Though the MNU offense did not score the rest of the half, the defense added another touchdown before the break when Kyle Cobb picked off Wardlaw and went 50 yards at the 3:53 mark of the second quarter.

Herl gave the Pioneers the fast start it needed to start the second half as he raced 46 yards through a hole on the right side for a 27-7 lead just 1:09 into the 3rd quarter. However, the offense would again start to sputter and the Crimson Storm took advantage.

A third lost fumble by the Pioneers set the stage for the first extended drive of the game for either team. Wardlaw either passed or carried the ball on all 10 plays of a 62-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard TD pass to David Balenseifen.

Southern Nazarene (9-3) held its ground on defense the rest of the quarter and gave its offense another chance to cut into the MNU lead. Facing a 4th and 21 at its own 36, Wardlaw hit Martin again along his own sideline. Martin broke a tackle, stayed in bounds, and won a race to the endzone to make it 27-21.

The one-score advantage seemed to light a fire under the MNU offense as they responded with another quick-strike drive. Herl rushed once and hit TE Juan Redmon on a pair of passes, the second going for a 30-yard touchdown.

The Crimson Storm would answer right back with a 7-play, 82-yard drive to once again make it a 6-point game, but the Pioneers were able to counter-punch with their first lengthy offensive stretch. Herl started things off with a 41-yard pass to Austin Conyers before capping off the 7-play, 82-yard stretch with a 1-yard run.

A 5th turnover by Southern Nazarene ended any hope of a comeback as Wardlaw was picked off for a 4th time with 1:15 to play, this time with Anderson jumping in front of Derick Perkins at the MNU 19.

Wardlaw finished the game 24-of-47 for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns but was picked off 4 times. He also rushed for 20 yards while Perkins led the ground attack with 77 yards on 16 carries. Martin had 6 catches for 151 yards and 2 TDs.

Tillman carried 18 times for 128 yards and a touchdown while Ransburg added 51 yards on six carries and Scotty Cates rushed 5 times for 46 yards. Redmon led the receiving corps with 4 catches for 82 yards and a score.