Morningside (Iowa) and Marian (Ind.) will both be playing in the title game for the first time when they face off Thursday night in north Georgia.
Marian founded its football program just six years ago and has reached the NAIA playoffs three times. Now, the Knights are just one victory away from winning it all.
Coach Ted Karras Jr. says his players have shown "a sense of urgency since we started the program, and this year it came together."
Morningside (13-0) knocked off defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) 47-19 in the semifinals.
Perennial power Carroll (Mont.) had appeared in eight of the last 10 championship games—winning six times—but failed to make the playoffs this season.