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Valdosta St. beats Ferris St. 49-47 for Division II title

December 16, 2018
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Valdosta State wide receiver Lio'undre Gallimore (6) runs the ball for a touchdown against Ferris State defensive back Cyntell Williams (24) during the second quarter of the NCAA Division II National Championship in McKinney, Texas on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

MCKINNEY, Texas (AP) — Ninety-six points were scored in the NCAA Division II championship game Saturday. Two points that weren’t scored made the difference.

Rogan Wells tied the championship record with five touchdown passes and Valdosta State won its fourth national title with a 49-47 victory over Ferris State.

Ferris State’s rally from an 11-point deficit fell short when Jevon Shaw’s two-point conversion pass sailed wide of Keyondre Craig at the back of the end zone with 40 seconds left.

“When I saw the ball high and wide, that was a great feeling,” Valdosta coach Kerwin Bell said.

Ferris State coach Tony Annese said his team practiced “probably eight” different two-point plays every week during the season. The play he picked was a double reverse designed for wide receiver Shaw, a high school quarterback, to throw back to quarterback Jayru Campbell.

“We haven’t used a two-point conversion this year,” he said. “We’re 0 for 1.”

Sophomore Wells, the runner-up for the Harlon Hill Trophy for Division II’s outstanding player, outplayed junior Campbell, the Hill Trophy winner.

Wells passed for 349 yards, ran for 39 and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ivory Durham IV.

Campbell ran for 122 yards and a touchdown and had 99 yards passing and another TD. He was high on Division I recruiting lists before two arrests for assault in 2014.

Wells said the Hill voting wasn’t a motivator.

″(Campbell’s) a great player. He can throw it. He can run. I just wanted to come out and win the championship game.”

Bell was diplomatic.

“I thought both guys deserved it.”

Ferris State couldn’t stop Valdosta’s championship-game-record 374-yard passing attack, and the champions gave up 270 rushing yards to Ferris State.

The lead changed hands seven times before Valdosta (14-0) overcame a 34-31 deficit with two consecutive third-quarter touchdowns on passes from Wells to Joe Fortson Jr. and Travis Taylor.

In winning their first title since 2012, the Blazers overcame a missed field goal, a muffed punt, 114 penalty yards and a Ferris State pass that VSU cornerback Cory Roberts batted back into the end zone to Craig for a touchdown that pulled Ferris State to 42-38.

Valdosta stretched the lead back to 11 points when Wells lateraled to Durham and ran to the left sideline for a return pass and his touchdown. He’s the first player in the championship’s 46-year history responsible for six total touchdowns.

“Rogan was special at quarterback,” Bell said. “Our defense made the stop at the end to win this championship.”

Ferris State (15-1) missed a chance to become the first college team since 1899 to win a record 16 games in a season at any level. Amos Alonzo Stagg’s University of Chicago team went 16-0-2 in 1899. Yale had two 16-win seasons in the 19th century. No team has ever finished 16-0.

In the first quarter of its first championship game, Ferris State set records for the longest pass play, 80 yards from Shaw to Craig, and longest field goal, 52 yards by Jackson Dieterle.

Craig and Valdosta’s Lio’undre Gallimore each caught two touchdown passes. Gallimore had 111 yards on four catches.

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