|Mount Union beats Mary Hardin-Baylor 48-35|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 08 December 2012 16:28|
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 against Mary Hardin-Baylor.
``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. They are seeking their first championship since 2008. They lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater in each of the last three finals.
``You can't win when you don't make plays when it counts,'' Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said. ``Mount Union did.''
The Crusaders led 28-14 after Brodrick Crain scored on a 42-yard interception return early in the second half.
Mount Union battled back. Julius Moore caught a 10-yard TD pass from Kevin Burke to cap a 15-play drive. Two minutes later, Hank Spencer blocked a punt that was recovered by Nyejel Thomas in the end zone to make it 28-28.
``That was obviously huge,'' Fredenburg said.
Last week, Mount Union had three blocked punts in a 72-17 quarterfinal win over Widener.
LiDarral Bailey's 3-yard run put the Crusaders ahead 35-28 in the fourth, but Mount Union drove 77 yards in 11 plays, tying it on Blair Skilliter's 2-yard run with 3:42 left.
``In a tight situation, it wasn't about past plays or what we were going to do,'' wide receiver Jasper Collins said. ``We didn't panic. It was about right now, executing the next play.''
Collins had TD catches of 38 and 9 yards in the first half, but Mount Union lost a fumble, muffed punt and interception to trail at halftime, 21-14.