Mary Hardin-Baylor, which knocked off my alma mater Trinity in the opening round of the Division III NCAA football playoffs for their first win ever over the Tigers, makes me feel better about that loss by upsetting perennial powerhouse Mount Union.
In just his third career start, freshman quarterback Josh Welch guided Mary Hardin-Baylor into the Division III championship game.
Welch threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Walter Sharp on fourth down with 49 seconds to play, lifting the Crusaders to a 38-35 comeback victory over Mount Union on Saturday. It was just the third loss in 123 games for the Purple Raiders, who have won six of the last eight Division III titles.
"It just fell into my hands," said Sharp, who fought off two Purple Raiders to make the catch in swirling snow. "I just squeezed the ball as hard as I could and my teammates jumped on top of me."
Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-1) outscored Mount Union (12-1) 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders will play for their first championship in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Saturday in Salem, Va., against unbeaten Linfield, which beat Rowan 52-0 Saturday.
"This is the ultimate at this time," Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said. "We obviously want to win the national championship, but to come here and beat Mount Union is unbelievable."
Mount Union's previous two losses were in the 1999 semifinals to Rowan — a 24-17 setback after 54 straight wins — and to St. John's (Minn.) in last year's title game. That 24-6 loss snapped the longest win streak in NCAA history at 55 games.