SALEM, Va. (AP) — Justin Hill and D’Angelo Fulford have provided an offensive spark for Mount Union all season, so when the Purple Raiders were locked in a defensive struggle against Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Division III national championship, it was no surprise the pair did it again.
Fulford hit Hill for a 42-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter Friday night, pushing Mount Union’s lead to 10-0, and the Purple Raiders won their 13th football national championship with a 12-0 victory over the defending champions Friday night.
“We just had to make a play,” said Hill, who, like Fulford, is only a sophomore. “D-12 threw the ball up and I had to make a play. I’m an impact player so I had to make a play when we needed it.”
The touchdown pass, which barely cleared the hands of defensive backs Reginald Cole and Jefferson Fritz, was the 50th scoring throw for Fulford this season, and the 20th that went to Hill. It came with 11:17 remaining, and gave the Mount Union defense a sense of security.
“We felt that we could hold them under 10 points at least for the last 10 minutes of the game,” cornerback Louis Berry said.
The Purple Raiders (15-0), who lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the semifinals last season, held the Crusaders to 144 yards.
“Everything we did they were ready for it,” running back Markeith Miller said. “They had a great game plan.”
Mount Union also finished with eight sacks for 48 yards, including a safety by Nick Brish, and two interceptions.
The Crusaders (14-1) had not trailed all season and had their 29-game winning streak snapped. They also were shut out for just the second time in the 20-year history of their program. The only other was a 28-0 loss to Mississippi College on Oct. 17, 1998, the first season Mary Hardin-Baylor fielded a team.
Coach Pete Fredenburg was left to lament missed opportunities. The Crusaders ran a punt back for a touchdown in the first half, but it was nullified by a running into the kicker flag, and then tried a fake punt that came up short, leading to Mount Union’s first-half field goal.
“There were a multitude of things that we could have done better to keep them off the scoreboard,” he said.
The Purple Raiders took a 3-0 lead on Alex Louthan’s 31-yard field goal 1:15 before halftime. The drive was set up by Gabe Brown’s interception of Carl Robinson III at the Crusaders 47 yard-line. Brown’s interception came one play after Mount Union’s Fulford was intercepted by Jefferson Fritz near the goal line. It was just the fourth time all season that Fulford had been intercepted.
Fritz picked off Fulford again in the third quarter, giving the Crusaders the ball at their own 31, but four plays later, Berry made a diving interception to get the ball back for Mount Union. They drove to the Crusaders 25, but Jawanza Evans-Morris was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1.
The shutout was the first in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl since West Georgia beat Augustana 14-0 in 1982.