Brett Garner's 30-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining broke a tie and extended Lindenwood's magical season, the Lions pulling off a 41-38 win over No. 5 Ouachita Baptist on Saturday in Arkadelphia, Ark.
Playing in the first Division II playoff game in school history, Lindenwood improved to 9-3 by winning its eighth straight game. The Lions will play in the second round next Saturday against a familiar foe, No. 10 Northwest Missouri State (11-1), in Maryville, Mo. Time of kickoff will be announced Monday.
Other than a brief span in the second quarter Saturday in which Ouachita led 21-10, the game was a nail-biter throughout, with neither team leading by more than four points. It was Lions, Tigers, and one bear of a football game that included eight lead changes. The game was tied at 38-38 when Gabe Goodman's 22-yard field goal with 6:02 to play capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive for the Tigers (11-1), and it set up the winning drive.
Cade Brister completed all four of his attempts on the 10-play, 62-yard winning drive, none bigger than a third-and-4 conversion at the OBU 40 that went for 26 yards to Erik Henneman. At the 14, Lindenwood killed clock to set up Garner's field goal, but that wasn't the last dramatic play of the game.
The Tigers had one more chance, starting at their 42, where they completed a 14-yard pass to get into Lindenwood territory at the 44. But Jordan Perry (University City) intercepted a pass to put the Lions in victory formation.
Brister (Fort Zumwalt North) passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and he led the Lindenwood rushing attack with 94 yards on 18 carries. Nash Sutherlin had 81 yards rushing as the only other ball carrier for the Lions, who averaged 5.2 yards per rush to go for 172. Sutherlin also had 76 yards receiving on eight catches, Henneman caught seven balls for 65 yards, and Glen Gibbons (Mascoutah) was good for 62 yards on six receptions.
Ouachita got 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Brockton Brown, and Brayden Brazeal passed for 204 yards on an efficient 17-for-22 performance.
Junior defensive back Grady Daniels (Timberland) had a team-best 11 tackles for Lindenwood, and sophomore lineman Tayvian Weary (Vianney) had four of LU's eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Before moving to the Gateway Valley Football Conference this year, Lindenwood was a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate alongside Northwest Missouri. The Bearcats, who added to their Division II playoffs win record with their 49th Saturday by beating No. 12 Harding (10-2) 7-6, have won a record six D-II championships, including three of the last six.