GRAMBLING, La. (AP)Joe Dolincheck threw six touchdown passes, Arnijae Ponder had 30 carries for 130 yards, and Morningside beat Marian 40-38 on Saturday night to claim its second consecutive NAIA national championship.
Dolincheck was 30-of-44 passing for 304 yards with an interception. Reid Jurgensmeier had seven receptions for 102 yards and two scores and Bo Els caught 11 passes for 98 yards and two TDs for No. 1 seed Morningside (14-0).
Matt Plesac kicked 34-yard field goal to trim Marian’s deficit to 33-31 with 6:52 to play. The Knights defense forced a Morningside punt but the Knights then failed to convert on a fourth-and-5 from their own 22 and five plays later Dolincheck hit Els for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 40-31 with two minutes left.
Ethan Darter’s 10-yard scoring pass to Johnny William less that a minute later capped the scoring. The second-seeded Knights (12-1) attempted an onside kick but Morningside recovered and ran out the clock.
Darter passed for 291 yards and five touchdowns, including four to William, who finished with 10 receptions for 161 yards.
The Mustangs have won 29 consecutive games since losing 43-36 to Saint Francis in the 2017 semifinals and haven’t lost a regular-season game a 35-21 loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sept. 24, 2016.