The football team has finished its season by repeating the second best run in the school’s football program. It ended with an overall record of 13-1, tying 2004 for the most wins in a season. The Crusaders fell to the Mount Union Purple Raiders in the Division III National Football Championship semifinals 48-35 Dec. 8.
Graduate Assistant Coach Derrick Williams has been a part of the football program for eight years.
He said, “With finishing 13-1 and coming up short to compete for the National Championship, we realized that this football team had leadership emerge at the right times. We wouldn’t have made the run that we did if it wasn’t for our senior class. I have been around this program for eight years, and to see these guys grow into great leaders, just made this season even more exciting.”
With 7:39 left in the game, the Cru went up 35-28 off a three-yard quarterback run by LiDarral Bailey. The Purple Raiders answered with a touchdown of their own, tying the game 35-35 with 3:42 left in regulation.
Mount Union then forced another stop and charged down the field on a game-winning drive to go up 42-35 with only five seconds remaining.
The Cru drew up one last play, but the Purple Raiders forced a fumble and scored another touchdown to end the game. The Cru lost 48-35 in the closest game Mount Union faced all year.
Mount Union went on to conquer the Division III National Championship Stagg Bowl, defeating the St. Thomas Tommies 28-10.
The Cru defeated Louisiana College, Franklin College and Wesley College before falling to Mount Union. The semifinal showing was the third time the Crusaders have appeared in the national semifinals. In 2004, they made it to the Division III National Championship Stagg Bowl, but lost to Linfield College 28-21.
Junior exercise and sport science major Andy McAteer said the season was special.
“As a team, we grew week by week. Every day we could literally see it in motion. We were led by a great group of seniors, and without them it wouldn’t be possible. Having said that our goal was to win the Stagg Bowl, it’s up to the seniors to lead for next year.”
Seniors LiDarral Bailey, Javicz Jones and Sam Maxie will suit up to play one more game and represent the Crusaders. Each player was selected to compete in this year’s inaugural Dream Bowl at Salem Stadium in Roanoke, Va., Jan. 21. It features the best NCAA Division III and NAIA players across the country.
A senior sports management major, Jones is honored to be chosen to play in the all-star game.
“It is awesome to be selected to get an opportunity to play one more game. I encourage anyone to work hard because hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” he said.
Maxie, a senior exercise and sport science major, said, “It feels good, and I am honored to have been selected.”
The university will have a home of its own next season when the team plays its next home game in Cru Stadium against nationally ranked Wesley College.
Junior sport management major Chad Peevey is thrilled to have the next home game in the new UMHB facility.
“I am so excited for the new stadium, and being the first class to play in it is awesome,” he said.
Williams looks forward to the initial game of the 2013 season and all of the changes that will be taking place.
He said, “The feeling of having our next home game in the new stadium is awesome. I get jealous at times because I would have loved to play in the stadium. I’m sure many alumni would too. It’s going to be an electric atmosphere.”