HELENA (AP) — Former Havre High quarterback Gary Wagner has been to the NAIA national championship game, twice.
Now, the sixth-yar Carroll College senior will get his opportunity to lead the Saints to a victory in that game.
Wagner got a huge effort from running back Chance Demarais who rushed 24 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, and Jon Camino rushed 29 times for 128 yards as second-ranked Carroll College defeated third-ranked St. Xavier of Illinois 27-5 Saturday in the semifinals of the NAIA football playoffs at Nelson Stadium in Helena.
Carroll College (13-0) took a 13-3 lead into the break and then used its ground game to grind out a win in the second half while handing St. Xavier (13-1) its first loss of the season.
Anthony Kropp completed 22 of 43 passing attempts for 195 yards for St. Xavier, which could only get 36 yards rushing. Carroll College meanwhile rushed for 292 yards.
Wagner completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Corey Peterson to put the Saints ahead 20-3 with 3:45 left in the third quarter, and Demarais' 17 yard run early in the fourth made it 27-3.
Wagner finished the game 11-of-19 for 133 yards and was again stellar with his feet, rushing for 48 yards on just five carries.
Tom Lynch kicked a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter for St. Xavier, which got its final two points on a safety on the last play of the game.
Now the Saints will try and cap off a perfect season when they head to Rome, Ga., to take on top-ranked Sioux Falls for the NAIA title on Dec. 18.
Note: Havre Daily News sports editor George Ferguson contributed to this story.