SALEM, Virginia — In the lowest scoring game in Division III championship history, Mount Union won Stagg Bowl XLV 12-0 on a cold Friday night against Mary Hardin-Baylor. It was the Purple Raiders’ 13th title, the first coming in 1993, which was the debut year the Stagg Bowl was held at Salem Stadium.
Defensive lineman Nick Brish, who led Mount Union in tackles and sacked UMHB’s quarterback for a safety, was selected as the day’s Most Outstanding Player.
Both teams led with their strengths — their defenses — and clashed on a night when the fierceness of the wind matched the hassle of freezing temperatures. Passes and punts often hung in the air, while run games often failed to materialize. Too many drives that made it past the 50-yard line ultimately died.
“When you play against a great team and have tremendous respect for them, it wills you to prepare a little bit harder, to review that game plan one more time,” said Mount Union coach Vince Kehres, whose team lost to UMHB last year in the national semifinals. “It helped us to win this football game.”
Both defenses showcased their speed, putting pressure on quarterbacks and keeping runners from getting to the edges. Mount Union rolled up eight sacks in their 20th visit to this city. And this game marked the first time since Mary Hardin-Baylor’s startup season in 1998 that the Cru has been shut out in a game. It also snapped a 29-game win streak for last year’s national champion.
Mary Hardin-Baylor hadn’t been shut out since Oct. 17, 1998, the sixth game in program history.
The Purple Raiders amassed 229 yards total, most of which came in the second half, while UMHB was held to just 144 yards. Mount Union managed a field goal prior to the half and extended that margin after the break, but the game didn’t have many particularly notable momentum shifts. Perhaps the biggest single play was the 42-yard touchdown pass from D’Angelo Fulford to Justin Hill in tight coverage that helped give the team some breathing room and make it a two-score game. Hill led the team in receiving yards with 73, while Fulford went 12-21 with 137 yards and two interceptions.
In the end, players and fans rushed the field, chanted “UMU” in celebration, Hill was seen doing a back flip, and they held up the game’s most coveted trophy. A year after The Machine failed to win their conference or make the championship game, they have found their way back to the top.