BOURBONNAIS, Ill. - The Olivet Nazarene University football team had multiple chances to pull out a victory over No. 17 University of St. Francis (Ill.), but the Tigers failed to seal the deal and fell 19-16 in double overtime in Mid-States Football Association Midwest play on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Ward Field.
Following St. Francis' touchdown on its first overtime possession, Michael Ho-Lewis (Boise, Idaho) answered for the Tigers (0-4, 0-2) with a seven-yard touchdown run. But that's where Olivet's good fortune ended.
Already 3-for-4 on field-goal attempts, kicker Andrew Muzljakovich (Vicksburg, Mich.) missed a 28-yarder wide right, and the Fighting Saints (2-2, 1-0) responded with a field goal from 18 yards to end the game.
Despite the loss against yet another top 25 opponent, there were plenty of positives for the Tigers, who lost 69-3 to St. Francis last year. Playing in front of more than 2,000 fans, the offense outgained St. Francis in total yardage, and David Payne (Chebanse, Ill.) and Ho-Lewis each topped 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. Meanwhile, the defense held its ground while not allowing a touchdown in regulation.
Still, too many squandered chances, both early and late, kept Olivet from picking up its first win of the season. The Tigers' fumbled at the Saints' 1-yard line on their first drive of the game, and a fourth-quarter drive ended at the Saints' 2 when the offense turned the ball over on downs. They also lost two fumbles and missed two field-goal attempts, including the one in overtime.
Muzljakovich's big night included a career-long 44-yard field goal, and through four games, the junior is 7-of-10 on field-goal attempts. Cornerback Will Cummings (Flint, Mich.) led the Tigers with 10 tackles, and twice defensive back Mark Kosrow (Elk Grove Village, Ill.) made tackles on Saints' fourth-down conversion attempts.
Saints quarterback E.J. White completed 25 of 37 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
Following a bye week, Olivet will take to the road in its next four games, starting on Saturday, Sept. 29, when the Tigers visit No. 7 William Penn University (Iowa) for a 1:30 p.m. game.