Irvington’s Dwayne Beckford leads Marian University (Ind.) football team to NAIA national championship victory; named Defensive Player of the Game for third straight time in playoffs

Dwayne Beckford
Dwayne Beckford

IRVINGTON – Irvington native Dwayne Beckford proved to be a dominant defensive player in his first season playing for the Marian University football team in Indianapolis, Ind.

In fact, Beckford is a big reason why Marian is the 2015 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national champions.

Beckford a 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior linebacker, posted six tackles (five solo tackles), including 3 ½ tackles for losses and two sacks to lead Marian to 31-14 victory over Southern Oregon in the NAIA national championship game on Saturday, Dec. 19, at Municipal Stadium in Daytona, Fla to cap a 12-2 season.

Beckford was named the Defensive Player of the Game, the third straight time he received the honor.

It was a rematch of last year’s national title game won by Southern Oregon. Thanks to Beckford’s stellar performance, Marian avenged that loss.

Beckford, indeed, was a force in the NAIA playoffs.

In the quarterfinals, Beckford had six tackles, all solo, including four tackles for loss and three sacks, in the 30-3 win over Grand View (Ia.) at Williams Stadium in Des Moines, Ia. on Nov. 28, earning Defensive Player of the Game honors.

Beckford again was named Defensive Player of the Game in the semifinals as he posted seven tackles (four solo), including four tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry in the 45-14 win over St. Francis (Ind.) on Dec. 5 at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Beckford was ecstatic to win a national title in his final game.

“I’m really excited to have a chance to play in this game on a national level and to be able to show everyone I can still play the game that I love,” said Beckford, in a tweet to the Irvington Herald.  “It feels good to finally win a championship. I will celebrate for a day or too with some relaxation then right back to the every day grind.”

Beckford was a standout at Irvington High School. After graduating IHS in 2008, Beckford continued his career at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.  In 2011, he was second on the team in tackles with 91.

However, Beckford ran into off-the-field problems. In August 2012, following his fourth arrest since June 2011 on drug charges, Beckford was kicked off Purdue.

Looking to turn his life around, Beckford was determined to go back to school. He stayed in Indiana and enrolled at Marian.

Beckford made an immediate impact for Marian in his first season this fall. He had 40 tackles, including 17 ½  tackles for losses and 17 sacks.

The national title was Marian’s second in program history. Marian won its first national title in 2012.