Mount Union’s seniors have one more chance at a precious Division III national championship.
The Purple Raiders scored 13 points in the final five seconds Saturday to rally past Mary Hardin-Baylor 48-35, earning an eighth consecutive title-game trip, and fourth shot at winning an elusive 11th crown.
“I came to Mount Union for one reason, to win a national championship,” senior defensive back Nick Driskill said. “It hasn’t happened yet. We’ve got one more chance.”
Mount Union (14-0) will finally get its chance after overcoming a 28-14 deficit.
“The players thought they could rally in the fourth quarter,” said coach Larry Kehres, now 331-24-3 in 27 seasons. “They did. This game had it all.”
Jake Simon ran 12 yards to score, breaking a 35-all tie with five seconds left. Matt Fechko added another touchdown as time expired.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-1) had one final play after Simon’s run sent Mount Union fans into a frenzy. But the Crusaders threw the ball away on a desperation-lateral attempt. Fechko got it in the air and returned what was ruled a fumble 25 yards for another TD.
“Matt made a lot of good plays,” Kehres said. “I can’t remember them all, but I’ll remember that one.”
The Purple Raiders overcame five turnovers and will play St. Thomas (Minn.) on Friday in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. St. Thomas beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 28-14. Mount Union is seeking its first championship since 2008. They lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater in each of the last three finals.