Redskins

Newcomers Morningside, Marian in NAIA title game

Newcomers Morningside, Marian in NAIA title game

ROME, Ga. (AP) There's a new look to the NAIA championship.

Morningside (Iowa) and Marian (Ind.) will both be playing in the title game for the first time when they meet Thursday night in north Georgia.

Marian founded its football program just six years ago and has reached the NAIA playoffs three times. Now, the Knights are just one victory away from winning it all.

``Our guys have played with a sense of urgency since we started the program, and this year it came together,'' coach Ted Karras Jr. said.

Morningside (13-0) knocked off defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) 47-19 in the semifinals.

Perennial power Carroll (Mont.) had appeared in eight of the last 10 championship games - winning six times - but failed to make the playoffs this season.

Morningside is led by senior quarterback Joel Nixon, who moved to the position this season and became one of the top passers in the nation. He ranks second in the nation, throwing for 3,612 yards, and leads the team in rushing with 770 yards.

When asked what it would take to knock off the Mustangs, Karras was quick with a response.

``Not letting Nixon make all the plays that he's made in the last 13 games,'' the coach said.

In the victory over Saint Xavier, Nixon shredded the defending champs for 367 yards in total offense and played a role in five of Morningside's seven touchdowns.

He said it will take a similar performance to win the title game.

``We've got to come out and play our best football game of the season,'' Nixon said. ``There's no doubt about that. If we don't come out and play our best football, we're going to find ourselves in a real big dogfight.''

Marian knocked off unbeaten Missouri Valley College 20-17 in the semifinals.

Michael Josifovski kicked a 51-yard field goal with no time remaining, making up for a 32-yard miss. The winning kick was set up by Nathan Toon's second interception of the game with less than 3 minutes remaining. Tevin Lake broke off a 27-yard run to get the Knights in position for the victory.

Quick Links

Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

Chris Simms: Why Dwayne Haskins has 'Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent'

It did not take long for Dwayne Haskins to win approval from the media and the Redskins coaching staff in a short amount of time at OTAs. 

That excitement from the Redskins OTAs has reverberated across the country and made him the feature of NBC Sports' Chris Simms QB School series. There, the current NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback made big comparisons to the No. 15 overall pick Haskins to Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. 

Simms was enthralled with the skillset that Haskins possesses and his potential. Citing his arm talent and the small mechanics of the 22-year-old, Simms thinks he has all the tools to be a top-tier NFL QB.

"He reminds me a lot of a big Ben Roethlisberger with his style of football play. [Haskins] arm is special, there's no doubt about that," Simms said. 

Comparing a rookie QB to a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback that has made six All-Pro teams is not too shabby. Roethlisberger has thrown for over 54,000 yards in his career with 363 touchdowns across his NFL career. They both wear No. 7, both played their college ball in Ohio, and both are known for their ability to hurl a football down the field. 

Some of the strong qualities of Haskins that Simms highlighted were his tight and quick arm motion, his controlled body rotation, and the accuracy down the field. At the same time, he pointed out that Haskins has a tendency to drop his elbow on passes, forcing his passes to sail high. 

"[Haskins] has Big Ben Roethlisberger-type talent and I know he's already wowed some people down there in Washington in his first few practices." 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: