Zach Gadbury and Tanner Champley
Zach Gadbury and Tanner Champley
(1)University of Saint Francis (Ind.)
(23)St. Ambrose
Football - Sat, Sep. 16, 2017

For the better part of the first half, the Bees went toe-to-toe with the top-ranked team in the country.

But No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.), the defending National Champion, used its quick-strike, high-powered offense to get past No. 23 St. Ambrose 49-21 Saturday afternoon at Brady Street Stadium.

SAU more than held its own, especially in the first half. Tanner Champley's third rushing touchdown of the half trimmed the deficit to 28-21 with just over four minutes remaining.

Then the St. Ambrose defense, which started the game by forcing two straight three-and-outs, got another stop. Chris Overton came around the edge to strip the USF quarterback and record the first sack of the season by a Cougar opponent. Grant Wallace recovered the fumble, giving the Bees the ball at their own 28-yard line with 1:32 left in the half.

Appearing content to run out the clock and take the seven-point deficit into the locker room, St. Ambrose instead fumbled on a second-down play giving the ball back to Saint Francis on the SAU 35-yard line with 56 seconds left.

The Cougars immediately capitalized, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass on the first play following the fumble to go up 35-21 at the half. 

USF scored on its first possession of the second half and tacked on a touchdown late in the game to account for the final score.

SAU's best chance to score in the second half came right before the Cougars' final touchdown. Starting at their own 8-yard line, Jake Romani marched the Bees 77 yards over seven plays to get the team into a third-and-1 situation at the USF 15-yard line. But Justice O'Conner and Romani were stopped at the line of scrimmage on consecutive carries to end the drive.

Romani had success through the air, completing 22-of-30 passes for 275 yards. Six of his completions went to Vince Vignali, totaling 111 yards, including this diving 47-yard reception setting up Champley's second touchdown.

Eli Petty (66 yards) and Chase Ferger (43 yards) each caught four passes.

After rushing for more than 250 yards in each of the first two games, St. Ambrose was limited to just 81 yards on 38 carries Saturday. Champley led the ground attack with 37 yards on 10 carries, including his touchdown runs of three, two and five yards, each pulling SAU to within a touchdown.

Saint Francis totaled 686 yards of total offense, including 508 yards through the air. Three different Cougars finished with at least 100 yards receiving.

Jake Platt led the SAU defense with 12 tackles. Jake Schramm, Travis Warden and Kodie Olshefsky were each in on seven tackles. Servando Duran and Overton each recorded a sack.

The Bees will hit the road for the first time all season next Saturday when they visit Missouri Baptist. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.