The Road to Florence
Delta State, Minnesota Duluth to battle for DII title
Delta State advanced to its second championship game in program history with a 29-17 victory against Shepherd in the NCAA semifinals. The Statesmen limited the Rams' potent offense to just 69 yards rushing, while quarterback Micah Davis tossed three TDs and Trevor Deed ran for 104 yards. In the quarterfinals, DSU downed Albany State, which entered the game with the nation's top scoring defense. After receiving a first-round bye, the Statesmen notched a 47-24 win over North Alabama in a rematch between two Gulf South Conference foes.
Minnesota Duluth, the only remaining unbeaten team in Division II football, received a first-round bye before fending off Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference foe St. Cloud State, 20-17, in overtime in second round action. The Bulldogs then topped Augustana (S.D.), 24-13, in the quarterfinals, and then survived a hard-fought semifinal game against defending champion Northwest Missouri State, 17-13. Sophomore quarterback Chase Vogler rushed for 104 yards, including a go-head 34-yard TD in the fourth quarter on a fourth down situation.
Players to Watch
Both squads feature stellar running games thanks to senior running backs Trevor Deed and Brad Foss. Deed, a three-time All-GSC First Team selection, is the first 5,000-yard runner/receiver in Delta State with 5,117 all-purpose yards and he stands just 22 yards away from becoming the first 2,000-rusher/2,000-receiver in league history. He boasts school records for all-purpose yardage, career scoring (264 points) and career touchdowns (44).
Foss stepped up when All-American Issac Odim was injured earlier this season, and is averaging over 83 yards per game on the ground. He has scored 11 TDs this year, but just one during the NCAA playoffs.
DSU junior quarterback Micah Davis has completed a school-record 312 passes on 482 attempts for 3,854 yards with 31 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He has thrown eight touchdown passes in the postseason; however, four of his 18 interceptions have come in the past two games.
UMD sophomore quarterback Chase Vogler has compiled a 24-1 career record and 168.59 pass efficiency this season with just three interceptions, but his running talents have been utilized the most in the NCAA playoffs. Vogler rushed for 100-plus yards against both St. Cloud State and Northwest Missouri State.
DSU features a balanced offensive attack and ranks 11th in the nation in total offense with 460.29 yards per game and is putting up almost 33 points per game. The Statesmen's defense has given up more than 26 points and 373 yards per game, however, they have tightened up things during the past two contests, holding Albany State and Shepherd to 17 points or less, and 350 yards or less.
The UMD offense definitely favors the ground game, and ranks fourth in the nation with 278.36 rushing yards per game. The Bulldogs are putting up over 41 points per game, and will trot out Division II's most stingy scoring defense, which is giving up just 12.36 points per game.
Division II Championship History
DSU is 12-4 all-time in NCAA postseason play, and will be playing in the championship game for the second time. The Statesmen won their only NCAA title in 2000 after blowing out Bloomsburg, 63-34. DSU still holds the NCAA Division II Championship Game marks for rushing yards (524) and points scored from that contest.
The Bulldogs are 8-3 all-time in the NCAA Division II playoffs, and won their only other Division II championship appearance in 2008, defeating Northwest Missouri State, 21-14. UMD has four players on the roster that were in the starting lineup for the 2008 championship game -- linebackers Robbie Aurich and Kiel Fechtelkotter, punter Alex Miller and placekicker David Nadeau.
The two squads will be meeting for the first time on the football field.