Matt Ripp rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns as an unlikely hero to carry No. 18 Indianapolis to a 31-17 win over No. 8 Midwestern State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday afternoon at Key Stadium.
The Mustangs sputtered to a season-low 280 yards as the program fell to 1-5 in five NCAA Division II postseason appearances.
"You'd like to think once you get here, you'd play a little better," MSU coach Bill Maskill said. "They played better than us. It wasn't our best game, but you have to give credit to them. They had a lot to do with that. They are a good football team."
The Greyhounds (10-2) move on to face top-ranked Colorado State-Pueblo Saturday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (Central Time).
The Indianapolis attack features a trio of All-GLVC first teamers in quarterback Chris Mills, running back Klay Feichter and wide receiver MarQuone Edmonds, but it was Ripp who carried the Greyhounds to their 10th-straight win and first postseason victory in program history.
Mills scored the only points of the first half on a 9-yard keeper with 7:19 to go in the second quarter to take UIndy to a 7-0 halftime lead.
The Mustangs gained momentum with a pair of Keidrick Jackson touchdowns from 51 and 5 yards out as the Mustangs claimed a 14-7 edge five minutes into the second half.
"We jump started the third quarter," Maskill said. "But they just started pounding us and it wore us out. They were bigger and stronger than us."
Indianapolis answered with a pair or Ripp scoring runs from 4 and 15 yards to reclaim the lead at 21-14 with 10:23 to play.
The Greyhounds converted a fumble into a 19-yard Scott Miller field goal before Fiechter ran the ball in for a 7-yard touchdown after the Mustangs failed to convert on a 4th-and-10 from their own 12-yard line with 4:30 to play.
Jackson paced the Mustangs attack with 91 yards on 16 carries to close the season with 1,354 yards and school record 21 rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Glover completed 7-of-18 passes for 56 yards while filling in for starter Brandon Kelsey, who sat out the second half with an ankle injury.
Senior wide receiver Keivin Swanson had five receptions for 39 yards to lead the receiving corps.
Senior safety Pat Gardner logged a career-high 12 tackles to highlight the defense.
Midwestern State ends the season with a 9-2 record.
Midwestern State proved it had the closer's mentality while improving to 3-0 with a 68-54 win over Fort Lewis (Colo.) to close the Comfort Inn/Ashbrook Classic Saturday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
Sophomore forward Andrea Carter tallied her third consecutive double-double finishing with a game-high 17 points while ripping down 13 rebounds to go along with four steals, while guards Kirsti Degelia and Shatoia Gober had 14 points each.
Midwestern erupted for a 22-3 run over the final 8:58 of the first half after Kaile Magazzeni's driving layup gave Fort Lewis an 18-16 lead. It would be the last time the Skyhawks would have an advantage.
Freshman Hannah Selzer bombed in a trey from the top of the key to start the deluge as Carter would score seven points during the run as the Mustangs took a commanding 38-21 lead into the break.
Led by Christie Groh's 11-point, 13-rebound effort, Fort Lewis used a zone to chip away at the MSU advantage pulling to within five points at 57-52 on Mary Brinton's layup with 3:30 to play.
That's when Carter reasserted her presence scoring nine points during a game closing 11-2 run to seal the victory.
Alex Easterbrook knocked down a pair of treys to lead the Skyhawks with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists while Ashley Kuchar and Groh tallied 11 points each.
Midwestern State hits the road to face Oklahoma Panhandle State next Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Mustangs start Lone Star Conference the following week with trips to Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Kingsville before returning to the dome to face West Texas A&M on Dec. 5.
Hot shooting Colorado State-Pueblo buried 11 3-pointers to upend No. 23 Midwestern State 72-69 in the finale of the Al Kaly Classic Saturday night at Missari Arena.
"We weren't very good defensively tonight," MSU coach Nelson Haggerty said. "We've been able to cover that with good pressure, but our basic principles weren't good tonight. Our one-on-one defense bit us in the tail tonight. You have to give it to Pueblo. They shot the ball well and competed very hard."
CSU-P's Bryse Velasquez connected on four treys and led the team with 18 points as seven different Thunderwolves hit shots from beyond the arc.
In a tight game that features nine ties and 11 lead changes, Colorado State-Pueblo was able to make the last surge after Kevin Grayer's driving layup gave MSU a brief 67-65 lead with 2:12 to play.
CSU-P's Derick Agbaroji connected on a 3-ball on the possession before Nathan Tigner hit a jumper to put the Thunderwolves ahead 70-67 with 1:19 to play.
The Mustangs cut the lead to one on a follow dunk by all-tournament selection Keith Spellman with 41 seconds to play.
Spellman poured in a game-high 21 points for the second consecutive game hitting on three 3-pointers and shooting 8-of-12 from the field.
"He can score in bunches and we'll need that from his this year," Haggerty said. "And he'll get even better."
The Mustangs were unable to chase down a rebound on a Velasquez misfire on the next possession resulting in junior guard Monzaigo Williams' fifth foul of the game. Tiger converted a pair of free throws to push the CSU-P advantage to 72-69 with 12 seconds to play.
Spellman got one more look from the arc, but it caromed off of the rim as the Mustangs settled for a fall away trey attempt by Derrell Gibbs as the buzzer sounded.
"We ran a sideline play for a 3 and (Spellman) made a one-on-one play to get a 3," Haggerty said. "We got two good looks at it, but that's not the telling part of the game."
Grayer added 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting while junior forward Derek Kaster had 12 points and seven rebounds off of the bench.
Midwestern hits the road to face Ouachita Baptist Saturday in Arkadelphia. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Colorado State-Pueblo improved to 1-3 on the season.
Midwestern State junior Ashley Flores delivered a solid performance Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Division II Championships on the Missouri Southern State campus.
The Haltom City native ran her second best 6K time as a collegian completing the course in 22:06.90 which ranks as the seventh best time in program history.
But finished 92nd on a fast track falling short in her bid to become MSU third All American harrier as the first 40 across the line earned the honor.
The strong performance capped another stellar season for Flores, who garnered All-Lone Star Conference honors for the third consecutive season and earned USTFCCCA All-South Region honors for a second straight year.
Grand Valley State (Mich.) tallied 101 points to claim the national championship edging out Augustana (S.D.) (104) and South Central Region champ Adams State (Colo.) (109).
Other South Central Region finishers included Western State (4th/172), Colorado Mines (8th/292), Colorado-Colorado Springs (10th/326) and West Texas A&M (11th/332).
The region produced the individual champion as Adams State's Alicia Nelson cross the line in 20:03.30 to win the race by 9 seconds.
Nelson headlined a group of eight South Central runners earning All-America honors including three from Adams State, two from West Texas A&M, one each from Western State, Colorado Christian and Colorado-Colorado Springs.