/playoffs/2016/mary-hardin-baylor-mount-union-semifinal

UMHB ends Mount Union's Salem reign

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor

By Keith McMillan

BELTON, Texas -- Mary Hardin-Baylor earned its first trip to the Stagg Bowl since 2004, and Mount Union won't play for the national championship for the first time since that year, following the Cru's 14-12 victory Saturday evening in the Division III national semifinals.

The Purple Raiders mustered just 242 yards, but had a chance to tie the game following Dom Davis's 8-yard touchdown scramble with 4:24 left. Davis threw the ball into the ground instead of into double coverage on the two-point conversion attempt, and his defense got him the ball back with 2:32 left, two timeouts and the ball on their own 45. On third and eight, Ajay Fanene leapt to intercept a halfback screen pass and seal UMHB's trip to Salem. It will face off with UW-Oshkosh, a first-time Stagg Bowl participant, as each team aims for its first national championship. 

"It was just an incredible game, atmosphere, opponent, performance, all of those things were just incredible," said Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenburg, who had guided the Cru to the semifinals five times previously since starting the program in 1998. "It was awesome to come out on the winning edge against a team that, obviously, everybody knows about Mount Union."

Prior to Fanene's interception, Mount Union needed about 25 yards to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. The Purple Raiders had used a screen to running back B.J. Mitchell for a solid gain earlier in the game.


The Mary Hardin-Baylor defense led the way with big plays to get the Cru past Mount Union.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com
 

"It's funny, because I was on the sideline next to Coach Fred," Fanene said. "I went in on a passing situation, third down, and Coach Fred said, 'Watch the screen,' and I was like, 'Alright.' I took my steps and I [saw] that [the tackle] wasn't really trying to block me, he was just trying to take me up the field. So I stopped, and he threw the ball and I just happened to be at the right spot to make the play."

Despite the dicey situation his defense was in to protect the late two-point lead, Fredenburg had a good feeling. 

"I felt like the longer we played, the better our defense got," he said. "We've been very good about getting turnovers and creating issues, and I just kept thinking that something was going to happen. And it did."

It was fitting that the game ended on a defensive play, as neither team excelled offensively. The defenses were stout against the run and determined not to give up deep passes. UMHB came into the day averaging 52.2 points and 198.7 yards of offense, but gained just 283, including 114 on 44 rushes. But when it needed a big play, UMHB turned to senior quarterback Blake Jackson. He connected with running back Duane Thompson on a wheel route for a 25-yard gain, and twice scrambled for 11 yards on a third-quarter touchdown drive. The second run set up his 1-yard quarterback sneak with 1:53 left in the period, which put the Cru ahead 14-6.

"He can make something out of nothing, no question," Fredenburg said of Jackson, who split time at quarterback the past two seasons before taking over this year as the sole starter. 

The Crusaders led 7-6 at the half despite averaging just 2.7 yards per carry against the Purple Raiders defense. The lone touchdown of the opening half came when Jackson threw a jump ball to T.J. Josey in the end zone. Josey leaped and could get just one hand on it, but Wykeyhe Walker pulled down the tipped ball for a 33-yard touchdown catch. Earlier on that drive, on a third and 12, running back Markeith Miller one-hand-snagged a high screen pass and rumbled for a 24-yard gain.

Yards were hard to come by in the first half for the Purple Raiders as well. Mount Union mustered two field goals despite passing for just 13 yards, but rushed 29 times for 108 yards (3.7 yards per carry). The Purple Raiders had 121 yards and one turnover in the opening half, and UMHB gained 151 yards, all but 46 of those through the air.

Mount Union, bidding to become the fourth team to win four consecutive road games in the playoffs and reach the Stagg Bowl, saw its run through the bracket stopped. It was the Purple Raiders' first road loss since a playoff defeat at Albion in 1994.

Mount Union and Mary Hardin-Baylor had met twice before, in semifinal games in Alliance, Ohio. Both are remembered as epic games in Division III lore, given that each time, a team rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to win. In 2004, UMHB won when Walter Sharp caught a fourth-and-12 touchdown pass in the snow during a 38-35 win. In 2012, Mount Union's Jake Simon ran for the go-ahead touchdown with five seconds left.

On Saturday, B.J. Mitchell led the Purple Raiders with 31 carries for 137 yards, and drew praise of UMHB defensive players. Mount Union passed for just 63 yards, but that was partly a conscious decision because UMHB favored deep coverages.

The defending national champions lost nearly their entire offense, and made it back to the semifinals with a gritty defensive performance -- Coach Vince Kehres called it his defense's best of the season -- and a game outing from a freshman quarterback who earned the starting job midway through the season. 

"I'm really proud of our team and our effort," Kehres said, "and I think we overachieved to some degree this season. We'll be back."

Nov. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Husson 23, at Springfield 21
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Berry 34, Huntingdon 20
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Delaware Valley 35, Western New England 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 66, Plymouth State 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 35, at Wittenberg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 21, Washington and Lee 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wesley 45, RPI 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 31, Johns Hopkins 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 63, Monmouth 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Chapman 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 28, at Illinois Wesleyan 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 63, Lakeland 0
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at St. Thomas 47, Eureka 8
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final - OT
at Wartburg 35, Franklin 34
Video Preview Box Score Live stats Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 17, St. John's 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Linfield 27, Hardin-Simmons 13
Box Score Photos
Nov. 25: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Wesley at Brockport
12:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Mount Union
Video Live stats Audio Tickets
12:00 PM
Frostburg State at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live stats Audio
12:00 PM
Husson at Delaware Valley
Live stats
1:00 PM
Berry at St. Thomas
Video Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at UW-Oshkosh
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Linfield at Mary Hardin-Baylor
1:00 PM
Trine at Wartburg
Nov. 17: All times Eastern
Final
Merchant Marine 35, at Buffalo State 20
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score Photos
Nov. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Muhlenberg 32, at Carnegie Mellon 6
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 21, Widener 7
Video Box Score
Final
Susquehanna 28, at Albright 9
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Huntingdon 20
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Brockport 66, Plymouth State 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 21, Washington and Lee 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Trine 63, Monmouth 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wesley 45, RPI 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 31, Johns Hopkins 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 35, at Wittenberg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Delaware Valley 35, Western New England 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Husson 23, at Springfield 21
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Framingham State 48, Curry 14
Video Box Score
Final
Cortland 35, at Union 28
Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 28, at Illinois Wesleyan 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Wartburg 35, Franklin 34
Video Preview Box Score Live stats Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Chapman 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 63, Lakeland 0
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 17, St. John's 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Thomas 47, Eureka 8
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Linfield 27, Hardin-Simmons 13
Box Score Photos
Final
at Ithaca 27, Salisbury 17
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at WPI 17, SUNY-Maritime 3
Box Score Recap
Nov. 19: All times Eastern
Final
at Alfred 29, Stevenson 16
@ University of Delaware
Video Box Score Recap