HELENA, Mont. (AP) -Gabe Le rushed for 186 yards and John Barnett passed for one touchdown and ran for another Saturday to lead Carroll College to a 23-7 victory over St. Francis of Indiana in the semifinals of the NAIA playoffs.
No. 2 Carroll (14-0) advanced to the national championship game for the fifth time in six years, after having won four straight titles from 2002 through 2005.
The Saints will play the winner of Sunday's game between top-ranked and defending national champion Sioux Falls (12-0) and Missouri Valley (10-2). The game was to have been played Saturday, but was postponed because of a winter storm in Sioux Falls, S.D.
No. 5 St. Francis (11-2) had been averaging nearly 276 yards rushing and 42.8 points per game, but the Saints held St. Francis to just 87 yards rushing.
Carroll broke the game open on its first drive in the third quarter when Barnett sneaked into the end zone on a quarterback keeper, giving the Saints a 16-7 lead midway through the third quarter. The key play in the drive was a 21-yard pass from Barnett to Travis Brown, who went out of bounds at the St. Francis 4.
That score held until Carroll's first drive of the fourth quarter, which started on the Saints 13. On a third-and-11 play from the 35, Barnett connected with Brian Sloan on a 65-yard pass play to put the Saints up 23-7 with 10:43 remaining.
St. Francis fumbled on its next possession. Carroll was forced to punt on its next drive, but Shawn Holland down the ball at the St. Francis 2 with 6:31 remaining.
The Cougars drove to the Carroll 20 but turned the ball over on downs with an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-4 play with 3:30 remaining.
Jeff Wedding completed 14 of 28 passes for 166 yards for St. Francis, while Taylor Vieck had five carries for 34 yards. Barnett completed 14 of 24 passes after suffering a ruptured bursar sac in his right elbow on the second play of the game. Sloan had two catches for 75 yards, and Le had 39 carries for the Saints.
St. Francis scored first, after Carroll's Marcus Miller missed a 45-yard field goal attempt into the wind. On the next play, Wedding and Bo Thompson connected on a 72-yard pass play to give St. Francis a 7-0 lead just 5 minutes into the game.
Carroll had to settle for field goals on its next three possessions. Miller kicked a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter and added two 27-yarders in the second quarter to give the Saints a 9-7 halftime lead.
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