ORANGE CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – The last time No. 3 Northwestern football hosted an NAIA Championship Series semifinal game, they won a national title. History would stay in their favor Saturday afternoon for their 3rd straight semifinal appearance, with the Red Raiders making their second trip to the NAIA national championship game in three seasons in a 38-7 win over No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan University.

Northwestern boasted the nation’s second best offense heading into the afternoon, both teams with 11-game win streaks in the balance. The home team wasted no time getting on the board. Sophomore quarterback Jalyn Gramstad hit Michael Storey on the opening drive for a 27-yard touchdown, give them a quick 7-0 lead.

The defense would do their duty forcing a three-and-out, and Gramstad carried the torch with a 15-yard designed run the ensuing possession to make it a 14-0 game. Eli Stader then kicked a 27-yard field goal to end the first quarter with a 17-0 edge.

Indiana Wesleyan showed some life early in the second quarter with a solid drive to the goal line. But Northwestern senior linebacker Parker Fryar would grab the defensive play of the game intercepting Wildcats quarterback Xander Stokes in the end zone. The INT kept the Wildcats off the board, a trend that carried into the locker room with Northwestern leading 17-0 at halftime.

Gramstad showed his dual-threat abilities on their first drive in the third quarter, connecting with Blake Anderson for an 18-yard touchdown and a 24-0 advantage. Gramstad would go on to collect 4 combined touchdowns on the day, his fourth straight game with four-plus TD’s.

A Gramstad TD run late in the third quarter gifted NWC a commanding 31-0 lead, before Northwestern junior running back Konner McQuillan found a crease at the goal line for the team’s third rushing score of the day, making it a 38-0 game.

The Wildcats compiled a touchdown drive moments later for their first score of the day, but damage from Northwestern was more than done, capping off a 373-yard offensive performance from the Red Raiders and the 38-7 victory. Even more impressive, the defense would hold IWU to just 182 total yards of offense, allowing only three yards in the first 15 minutes of play.

“They’re fueled by a really strong belief and they believe in the way they prepare and the way that they’ve played,” Northwestern head coach Matt McCarty said. “I think they’ve shown that throughout the year they just play really good team football. First thing they said when we got in the locker room was ‘unfinished business’ and we’ve got more ahead of us yet.”

“It’s just the whole team coming together,” Northwestern senior linebacker Parker Fryar said. “We’ve had a lot of guys who could have gone on with their life but they came back to play football another year. Everybody is just all in on this season and I think that’s what’s making this year so special.”

“It wouldn’t mean anything to come this far and not get the job done the next game,” Northwestern sophomore quarterback Jalyn Gramstad said. “We’re gonna put everything we have into this next game because that’s all that matters.”

The Red Raiders advance to the national championship game of the NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) for the second time in three years. Northwestern will face the Seahawks of Keiser University (Fla.) (10-3, 6-0 SUN) in Durham, North Carolina on December 17.