The Gorillas (13-1) also blocked a punt and returned a blocked kick for a touchdown to claim their second national title and first since 1991. The Kansas school snapped a streak of three title-game losses.
The Warriors (12-4) had navigated four playoff road games but the team from Detroit fell short of becoming the first unranked team to win the title.
Toney Davis, who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, closed the gap on a 1-yard score with 5:11 left.
Wayne State’s defense couldn’t keep Dickey & Co. from the end zone.
Dickey fired a 53-yard pass to Andrew Castaneda and Jason Spradling scored on a clinching 4-yarder.
Jeremy Jones returned the kick into Pittsburg State territory but Elijah Olabode picked off a pass in the end zone.
SAINT XAVIER 24, CARROLL 20
In Rome, Ga., Jimmy Coy accounted for 294 yards and two touchdowns, Mark Williams knocked down a late fourth-down pass in the end zone and St. Xavier won its first NAIA title, beating defending champion Carroll.
Coy, a senior transfer from NCAA Division II Valdosta State, completed 28 of 43 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 78 yards and a score on 16 carries. He was selected the offensive player of the game.
St. Xavier (14-1) was making its first championship appearance after losing in the semifinals three of the past four years. The loss kept Carroll (13-2) from a seventh title, which would have tied the NAIA record.
Jared Mayernik returned the second-half kickoff 94 yards to give Carroll its only lead. But the Saints missed the extra point and St. Xavier drove 67 yards to go back ahead on K.J. Franklin’s 4-yard run early in the third quarter.
St. Xavier held Carroll’s Chance Demarais, the NAIA player of the year, to 57 yards on 21 carries.