CANTON, Ohio — The Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders defeated the North Central College Cardinals 57-24 in the 2021 Stagg, the NCAA DIII Championship.
UMHB entered the game 14-0 while the Cardinals entered 13-0. The two teams capped off a season of blowing teams out and flexing their defensive muscles as they both looked to win their second NCAA DIII Championship.
The Cru found themselves trailing after the opening kickoff as NCC's DeAngelo Hardy took the boot back 93-yards.
After a quick field goal on their first drive, Kyle King connected with Brandon Jordan for a 19-yard pass to take a 9-7 lead in the first.
At the end of the quarter, the Cru went on a six-play, 83-yard touchdown drive capped off by a KJ Miller 19-yard touchdown catch from Kyle King.
The Cru forced their first turnover with 13:15 left in the second quarter. Mikkah Hackett strip-sacked Cardinals QB Luke Lehnen and recovered at the NCC 46.
The turnover resulted in a UMHB fumble which NCC capitalized on with a one-yard touchdown run from Ethan Greenfield to make it 16-14.
With just under five minutes to play in the half, the momentum stayed with the Cardinals. Kyle King fumbled after a big hit and NCC took over on the Cru's 49-yard line.
The Cards added a field goal, making it 17-16 with 2:05 left. But UMHB answered back with their own three and went into the half up 19-17.
On their first drive of the 2nd, UMHB went on a 12-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in an Aphonso Thomas 15-yard rushing touchdown giving them a 26-17 lead.
Aphonso found the end zone in the next drive, this time from three yards out to give them a 33-17 lead. The touchdown was set up by a Jefferson Fritz interception.
On the next NCC drive, Mikkah Hackett intercepted a Lehnen pass near mid-field and returned it to the 4-yard line. The Cru tacked on a field goal and then added a touchdown on the next drive on a Kenneth Cormier 11-yard rush.
The Cru forced five total turnovers in the game and outgained NCC by more than 250 yards.
The Cru came into this game with one Stagg Bowl title, their 2016 championship was vacated by the NCAA. They were in the Stagg Bowl in 2004, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The NCAA only views the '04 and '18 appearances as official.