Mary Hardin Baylor's journey to a Division III title runs into perennial power Mount Union on Saturday in Belton. The Cru have won their first three playoff games by a combined 115 to 54. The semifinal on Saturday at Crusader Stadium will be their stiffest challenge yet. Mount Union in is the gold standard.
The Purple Raiders from Alliance, Ohio have appeared in eleven consecutive Stagg Bowls, the Division III Championship Game, and they've won 12 total championships. You'd have to go back to 2004, the first George W. Bush administration, to find a Division III championship game that didn't include the Raiders.
This season's version is 12-1, having lost their final game of the season to rival John Carroll. The loss to John Carroll ended Mount Unions 112 game regular season winning streak. That's over a decade of never losing a regular season game. The loss to John Carroll however caused the Raiders to spend their playoff run on the road where they've survived and once again find themselves in familiar territory, a game away from the Stagg Bowl.
UMHB is no stranger to dominance, they've won 12 straight American Southwest Conference titles. The Cru were the reason Mount Union didn't make the Stagg Bowl back in '04 after they beat the Purple Raiders in Alliance, overcoming a 14 point fourth quarter deficit to do so.
Though the Cru, 13-0 host the Raiders, they are no doubt an underdog to the juggernaut of Division III football. The Raiders have a potent offense and can stop the run defensively. Meanwhile the Cru are known for their offensive prowess but thus far in the playoffs the Crusader defense has been dominant. They held Linfield, with its sixth ranked offense to just 10 points in the second round and held third round opponent Wheaton to 16.
Kick off is set for 4:30 at Crusader Stadium in Belton.