DELTA STATE (MS) SQUEEZES PAST NORTH GREENVILLE IN NCAA II NATIONAL QUARTERFINALS
Saturday, December 3, 2011
DELTA STATE (MS) SQUEEZES PAST NORTH GREENVILLE IN NCAA II NATIONAL QUARTERFINALS
Cleveland, MS – Delta State’s Richard Freelon scored three rushing touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to lead the Statesmen to a come from behind win over upstart North Greenville at McKool Stadium before 6,531 in the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals.
Prior to the game, Delta State coaches and fans were exclaiming, ‘North Greenville who?’  After the game, which hinged upon the Statesmen scoring two one yard Freelon touchdowns and holding on to the ball for all but three minutes in the fourth quarter, they knew who the Crusaders were.  Freelon had 130 yards on 23 carries and quarterback Micah Davis was 19-26 for 192 yards for Delta, which has reached the NCAA playoffs 15 times.
NGU is the smallest school to reach the NCAA quarterfinals, and it must be noted that Delta has 32 scholarships to only 19 for the Crusaders.
North Greenville was led by senior quarterback Willy Korn who went 14-24  for 192 yards and three touchdowns, and had a team best 56 yards rushing in his final collegiate game.  The former Byrnes High and Clemson star culminated his career at NGU with a 20-6 mark, a NCCAA Victory Bowl championship  and nearly a trip to the NCAA semi-finals.  Korn connected with Taylor Malphrus, Sean Wright and Freddie Martino.  Delta was the first team to not allow NGU a rushing touchdown this season.
The difference in the game was penalty yardage, as on critical plays, long gains and first downs were nullified by offensive mistakes for NGU.  On NGU’s first series, a holding call on a fourth down play that resulted in a first down deep inside Statemen territory ended NGU’s drive.  Delta responded with a six play 76 yard drive ended with Freelon’s first TD.  Delta led 7-0 with 7:46 left in the first.

The teams exchanged punts several times, and NGU’s Nick Rosamonda ended a Delta drive with an interception.  NGU’s Zach Epting recovered a fumble and advanced it to the Delta State 16 yard line.  Korn hit Taylor Malphrus with a 13 yard touchdown two plays later.  Justin Gravely’s extra point made it  7-7 with 9:51 left in the second quarter.
Micah Davis scored from 3 yards out with 4:17 left for the Statesmen and they went ahead 14-7 DSU.  Delta forced another NGU punt, but Davis fumbled and Carl Dukes recovered and advanced the ball to the DSU seven.  After yet another NGU personal foul that moved the ball back, Korn responded by hitting Sean Wright with a 22 yarder to tie it 14-14 with 43 seconds left.  
North Greenville forced yet another Statesmen punt and Korn got the ball at the 43 yard line with 55 seconds left.  He drove the Crusaders to the one yard line with 9 seconds left.  He tried to hit Wright on the corner fade route with nine seconds left, but the pass was batted away.  Coach Jamey Chadwell turned to Justin Gravely who knocked in an 18 yard field goal with no time left to give NGU a 17-14 at halftime.
NGU stopped Delta on its first drive, and took over at its own 29.  Penalties once again slowed a long Crusader drive.  Teryan Rucker rushed for a first down to the DSU 29, but a clipping penalty brought it back.  For the first time this season, NGU was held scoreless in the third quarter, and at end of the third, it remained 17-14 NGU.
Freelon scored the go ahead touchdown for Delta with 14:22 left in the fourth quarter and the Statesmen took a 21-17 lead.  Delta State turned to the running game in the fourth quarter and held onto the ball for 12 minutes to only 3 for the Crusaders.  Delta’s offense kept the Crusader offense off the field, and Freelon added the deciding TD from a yard out with 8:01 left, giving DSU a 28-17 lead.  
North Greenville wasn’t done though, as Cedric Proctor returned the kickoff 39 yards to the Delta 43 yard line.  Korn then hit Freddie Martino with a 36 yard touchdown pass with 6:51 left.  The Crusaders’ two point conversion was stopped, and NGU trailed 28-23.  
Delta took over after the kickoff with 6:42 left, and North Greenville never got the ball back, and held on for the slim victory over the Crusaders.