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UMHB football hosts defending national champions in NCAA Semifinals

BELTON, TX (KXXV) -

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team will welcome the defending national champion to Crusader Stadium this Saturday as the Cru plays host to Mount Union in an NCAA National Semifinal game. UMHB will face the Purple Raiders in a 3:30 PM Central Time kick off with the winner advancing to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl to play for the national title.

UMHB improved to 13-0 on the season and tied the longest winning streak in program history by posting a 38-16 Quarterfinal victory over Wheaton College last Saturday in Belton. The Cru is hosting a National Semifinal for the second time in four years and for just the third time in program history. UMHB is looking for the second Stagg Bowl berth in program history and will have to repeat history to get there. The Cru edged Mount Union 38-35 in the 2004 National Semifinals to earn its only trip to the national championship game. The two teams also faced off in the 2012 National Semifinals, with the Purple Raiders posting 34 fourth-quarter points to notch a 48-35 win over UMHB, leaving the all-time series between the two teams tied at 1-1. Cru linebacker Keith Reineke is the only player on the current UMHB roster to have faced the Purple Raiders, catching one pass for six yards as a freshman wide receiver in that 2012 contest.

Mount Union is 12-1 on the season and moved into the Semifinals with a 70-45 Quarterfinal victory at Alfred University last Saturday in New York. The Purple Raiders have reeled off three straight road victories in the postseason after falling to conference rival John Carroll 31-28 in the regular season finale. Mount Union is making its 22nd consecutive appearance in the National Semifinals and the Purple Raiders won their 12th National Championship last season. Mount Union has also played in 11 consecutive Stagg Bowl games since that 2004 Semifinal loss to UMHB and is playing in the NCAA Division III National Championships for the 28th time in program history.

“Absolutely, our players know about Mount Union and we all have a tremendous amount of respect for what they’ve accomplished year after year,” Cru football coach Pete Fredenburg said. “I’ve always thought it is harder to maintain success than it is to just get there, so what they have been able to achieve is remarkable. Our players set goal in the offseason to get to Salem and what our leaders have done since January to get us to this point is just incredible. It hasn’t been easy, either, they’ve made some hard decisions while keeping their eye on that goal. Now we have another huge hurdle in front of us, but we have to approach it as a tremendous opportunity for this program.”

UMHB will enter the game ranked #1 in the country by D3football.com and the Cru is ranked #2 nationally by the American Football Coaches Association. The Purple Raiders are ranked #7 in the nation by D3football.com and are 8th in the country in the AFCA Top 25 Poll. This will be the first time Mount Union has played a football game in the state of Texas. The winner of Saturday’s Semifinal will take on the John Carroll/Wisconsin-Oshkosh winner in the Stagg Bowl on December 16th at 7:00 PM Eastern Time in Salem, Virginia.

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