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Ben Smith

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Saint Francis
vs. Faulkner (Ala.)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Bishop John M. D’Arcy Stadium
Radio: 1450 AM
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
At right, David Yoder leads Saint Francis in passing yards (1,505). Three times the senior quarterback has brought the Cougars from behind to win games.

Cougars QBs a dual threat

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Josh Miller, when healthy, has given the Cougars multiple dimensions they otherwise don’t have at quarterback.

– You like the home team this week because of this guy here, buckling on the pads on a blue-sky November day. His name is Josh Miller, and he’s had the season from hell. He hasn’t played an entire football game since September. He’s got an ankle that hasn’t been right in a year. He’s so frustrated right now, he can’t see straight.

Know what’s amazing about all that?

The last part is a bald-faced lie.

No, on this day, he buckles his pads, and you ask him what it’s been like to play a half here and a half there, and he says, listen, that’s not what this is about. What this is about is everyone else, having the time of their lives.

“I thoroughly enjoy watching my teammates have success,” says Miller, Saint Francis’ injury-plagued starting quarterback. “Just to see the development of guys like Jalen Campbell and Jerrell Holman, guys that weren’t seeing the field at first, and the patience they had and the transition they made to come out and be integral parts of this team. It’s really great to see.

“You know, we’re conference champs. And there’s no other way I’d like to go out as a senior than to be conference champs and hopefully a national champ as well.”

Don’t bet against it. Oh, the Cougars slipped up a couple of times this fall, and they’ve got a Faulkner (Ala.) team coming Saturday that leads the NAIA in virtually every offensive category but carpet bombing. But the Cougars have their own season of hell waiting for the Eagles from Montgomery, Ala.

To wit: The Cougars just have one offense to prepare for. Faulkner has two.

First there’s Miller, who, when he’s been right, has given the Cougars a multiple dimension they otherwise don’t have. The last game he played in its entirety, against then-No. 10 Saint Ambrose, he threw for 412 yards and led the Cougars to a 38-37 win. In the first half against Taylor, he threw for 147 yards and ran for two touchdowns in the first half of a 20-12 win.

Then the ankle went south, and the second part of Faulkner’s dilemma stepped in.

That would be David Yoder, the Mad Bomber, 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds of major-league closer. Though he’s started only one game this year, the senior has been the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League Offensive Player of the Week three times. He leads the team in passing yards (1,505), touchdowns (14) and is second to Miller in completion percentage (63 percent to 62.3 percent). Three times he’s brought the Cougars from behind to win games.

Miller bedevils you with his feet and his arm and his athleticism. Yoder stretches the field, sending everyone deep and winging it.

“You have to have two different game plans for these guys,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley says. “They really give you completely different dimensions to deal with.”

A soft chuckle.

“You know, (people say) you can’t play with two quarterbacks. Well, with two good ones you sure can, because it creates preparation issues.”

And, bad news for Faulkner, no other issues.

“I have never seen in my life three kids – (Wes) Hunsucker being the third – that are competing to win that job, but are so supportive of each other,” Donley says. “They’re like brothers. They’re ‘we’ guys, team guys all the way. That’s so unusual.”

Oh, yeah. Gotta like the home team.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.

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