46th Annual Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl: Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16 Defense lifts Crusaders to Div. III crown
SHENANDOAH — Mary Hardin-Baylor had the No. 1 scoring defense in the country this season, and that unit made all the difference against a talented Mount Union team Friday evening.
The No. 2-ranked Crusaders held the No. 1 Raiders to their lowest point total of the season en route to a 24-16 victory in the 46th annual Stagg Bowl at Woodforest Bank Stadium to capture the program’s second Division III national title.
The triumph for UMHB (15-0) avenged a 12-0 loss to Mount Union (14-1) in the Stagg Bowl last season and gave the Crusaders two titles in three years.
“Any time you play a team with the legacy and tradition of Mount Union and have a chance to beat them, it says an awful lot about our football team,” UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg said. “Really the cool thing about this year … there’s been some adversity, but we have just kept driving and working, and it’s been the goal since the beginning of fall camp to get back here and have another shot at Mount Union just because of the way last year ended.”
Crusaders wide receiver and Angleton High School alum T.J. Josey was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game after missing most of the Stagg Bowl last season with an injury suffered on the opening possession. He finished the game with five catches for 78 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown that gave UMHB its first points in the opening quarter. He also had 21 rushing yards on four carries for 99 total yards.
“Last year, I didn’t really get to play in this game,” Josey said. “So I just told those guys that this was my last game, and if you need me, I’m going to give everything I have. I’m just lost for words. It’s kind of all sinking in, and this was my last game, but it’s great to go out on top.”
The Crusaders trailed 10-0 in the opening period after Mount Union scored on a 41-yard field goal from Cory Barnett and a 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback D’Angelo Fulford.
Josey got in on the action late in the period, making a back-shoulder touchdown grab just beyond the left-front pylon on a pass from QB Jase Hammack.
Mount Union had a chance to put more points on the board late in the second quarter, but a 54-yard field-goal attempt from Barnett was blocked by UMHB safety Jefferson Fritz.
The Crusaders capitalized on the ensuing possession as Markeith Miller (90 yards) scored on a 2-yard run, his 30th rushing touchdown of the season. That score came with 38 seconds to play in the first half and gave the Crusaders their first lead at 14-13.
The Crusaders extended their lead on the first drive of the third quarter as Anthony Avila connected on a 30-yard field goal.
UMHB took a two-score lead at 24-13 when Hammack found a wide-open K.J. Miller for a 16-yard score with 9:46 to play in the fourth. That touchdown capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that consumed more than five minutes of the game clock.
Mount Union tacked on a 21-yard field goal from Barnett with seven minutes to play and drove deep into UMHB territory with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter. But the Crusaders rose to the challenge again and got a fourth-down stop with just 1:09 remaining.
“We prepared for this for 15 weeks now,” said defensive back Raylon Hickey, who finished with eight tackles. “This was our time to come out and perform.”