DAYTONA, Fla. (AP) — Trent Solsma threw four touchdown passes, including an 16-yard scoring strike to Connor Niles with 1:29 to play, to help Morningside beat Benedictine 35-28 on Saturday night at Daytona Stadium for its first NAIA championship.
Solsma, the NAIA player of the year, was 19-of-36 passing for 292 yards with two interceptions. Niles, whose 25-yard TD catch gave the Mustangs a 34-28 win over Saint Francis in the semifinals, finished with seven receptions for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Arnijae Ponder had 134 yards rushing and a score on 30 carries for top-ranked Morningside (15-0).
Jacob Boyd broke up a pass by Solsma on fourth-and-14 to set up a 10-play, 62-yard drive capped by Frank Trent’s 1-yard touchdown run and Shaefer Schuetz hit Alex Blake for the 2-point conversion to make it 28-all with 5:49 to play. The Mustangs went three-and-out on their next possession but the defense held on Benedictine’s ensuing drive. Punter Jacob Young couldn’t handle a low snap and Morningside’s Alex Paulson covered a short punt at the 18. Three plays later, Solsma hit Niles for the winner.
Marquis Stewart had 27 carries for 168 yards and a score for No. 7 Benedictine (13-2).
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