Mary Hardin-Baylor ends Mount Union's Stagg Bowl streak
HOUSTON (AP) For the first time in 12 seasons, Mount Union will not appear in the Division III championship game.
In its place, Mary Hardin-Baylor will play in its first Stagg Bowl since 2004 - the season before Mount Union's 11-year streak began.
Mary Hardin-Baylor converted a first down on fake punt with 45 seconds left and the Crusaders upset defending champion Mount Union 14-12 on Saturday in the Division III semifinals.
The Crusaders' last title game ended in a 28-21 defeat to Linfield. That was the last D-III title game not involving Mount Union, UW-Whitewater or St. Thomas.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (14-0) will play Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which beat John Carroll 10-3, on Friday night.
Two of the highest scoring teams in Division III were locked in a defensive battle on Saturday.
Mount Union (12-2) started its final possession with 2:32 left at its 45. But defensive end Ajay Fanene read a screen pass and dropped back in coverage to intercept freshman quarterback Dom Davis' pass with 1:44 left. It was his first interception of the season.
Mary Hardin-Baylor was forced to punt after three plays but Trinton Ynclan caught a dart from the Baylor Mullins in a punt formation to seal it.
It was Mount Union's first true road loss since 1994, which is also the last time the Raiders lost two games in a season. The 114-game streak went back to the 1994 NCAA Playoffs in a 34-33 loss at Albion (Mich.).
Mary Hardin-Baylor quarterback Blake Jackson scored on a 1-yard sneak up the middle with 1:53 left in the third quarter for a 14-6 lead. His 11-yard scramble two plays earlier on a third-and-6 set up the touchdown. Duane Thompson also made two big plays on the drive. He had an over-the-shoulder catch for 25 yards and rushed for a 15-yard gain on the next play.
Keith Reineke made an easy interception with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter for Mary Hardin-Baylor but the Crusaders' drive stalled after three plays. Mount Union made them pay with a 14-play, 66 yard scoring drive to pull to 14-12 with 4:20 left on Davis' play-action keeper. The Raiders' two-point conversion attempt failed after Davis' pressured pass fell incomplete short of the end zone.
In the first half, Alex Louthan kicked a 30-yard field goal to open the scoring for Mount Union with 8:08 left. But Mary Hardin-Baylor answered on its next possession. Jackson scrambled to escape pressure and was hit hard just after a throw for a 33-yard touchdown. T.J. Josey leapt in the end zone to get a hand on it and Wykeyhe Walker secured it for a 7-3 lead.
Louthan made his second field goal with two seconds left before halftime to pull to Mount Union to 7-6.
Mary Hardin-Baylor won its 12th straight American Southwest Conference title to earn the one tournament bid reserved for independents or teams in a non-automatic qualifying conference. Mount Union earned one of the six at-large bids to the playoffs and is the only team in D-III history to win three straight road games to reach the semis.