FCS title teams' kickers are ready for big stage

4:26 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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Frisco, TX (Sports Network) - Often overlooked is the importance of a steady place-kicker.

That's especially the case in the buildup to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game on Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium.

Everyone wants to talk about the two championship teams' obvious strong points on offense. For Sam Houston State, it's a balanced and dangerous attack. For North Dakota State, it's a powerful, yet effective, smash-mouth run game.

Well, the players handling the kicking duties have been excellent as well.

Sam Houston State's Miguel Antonio has converted 18-of-22 field goal attempts for an 81.8 success rate in 14 games this year. While he might dream about bringing home the Bearkats' first-ever FCS national title with a game-winning kick, he won't have to look too far because he's already beaten the Bison with his leg once before.

In a 2009 non-conference meeting between the two schools, Sam Houston State escaped with a 48-45 victory thanks to Antonio's 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining.

After a disappointing junior season, in which he missed 7-of-12 attempts and lost the starting nod, Antonio has saved his best season for last. He's led the Bearkats in scoring this year (126 points), missed only one extra point (72-of-73) on the first attempt of the season - and handles kickoff duty, booming 92 total kicks, with 29 touchbacks.

North Dakota State's Adam Keller, an All-Missouri Valley first-team selection, has converted 17-of-22 field goal attempts this season for a 77.3 success rate.

The sophomore has been absolute money from shorter distances, converting 8- of-8 attempts from 20 to 29 yards and 6-of-7 on attempts from 30 to 39 yards.

The championship game is a rematch of North Dakota State's 17-6 win over Sam Houston State last January.

The Sports Network

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