SHENANDOAH, Texas (AP) — After falling to Mount Union last year in the Division III championship game, Mary Hardin-Baylor not only wanted to get back to the title game — and beat the Purple Raiders.
The Crusaders did that Friday night.
Jase Hammack threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns, Markeith Miller rushed for 90 yards and a score and Mary Hardin-Baylor won its second title in three years, beating Mount Union 24-16.
Hammack rebounded after losing a fumble in the first that led to the Purple Raiders’ lone touchdown by completing 11 of 19 passes and rallying the Crusaders (15-0) from a 10-0 deficit. T.J. Josey caught five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown for Mary Hardin-Baylor, which lost to the Raiders (14-1) 12-0 last year in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.
“The goal since the beginning of fall camp was to get back here and have a shot at Mount Union just because of the way last year ended,” Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenburg said. “I think it says an awful lot about these players and coaches that kept pushing and kept driving. It’s incredible.”
D’Angelo Fulford was 18 of 37 for 194 yards and rushed for 45 yards, and had a 1-yard touchdown run to put Mount Union up 10-0 – the first time the Crusaders have trailed this season — with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. Josh Petruccelli added 57 rushing yards and Justin Hill caught five passes for 71 yards for the Raiders. Both teams finished with 303 yards.
“I thought we were fortunate to get some points on the board early,” Mount Union coach Vince Kehres said. “We took advantage of the turnover there and extended a drive with the fake punt. They have a great defense. Nobody’s scoring a lot of points on that defense. They executed pretty well down the stretch, and we couldn’t quite finish a couple of plays.”
Trailing 24-13, the Raiders cut the lead to eight on Cory Barnett’s third field goal with seven minutes left. After stopping Mary Hardin-Baylor a yard short on a fourth- and-2 at the Crusaders 40, Mount Union’s drive stalled at Mary Hardin-Baylor 16 with two straight incompletions with a minute left.
Following a three-and-out by Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mount Union had one last chance, but Fulford was sacked by Khevon Shepard and injured on third-and-10. Mount Union’s lateral play on fourth down failed.
Hammack found Josey for a 36-yard touchdown pass, which Josey caught falling into the end zone with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter. Miller gave the Crusaders a 14-13 lead with a 2-yard touchdown run right before halftime.
“We always felt like that when you get into a game like this with so much significance, the key thing was to maintain the confidence level that we have, don’t panic,” Fredenburg said. “Everything is going to take care of itself. We felt like we could play with Mount Union. We felt like our team was a team of destiny.”
After Anthony Avila’s field goal in the third quarter, Hammack upped the lead to 24-13 midway through the fourth, finding K.J. Miller for a 16-yard touchdown pass.