|Delfonte Diamond pulled in
the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left at the
McMurry photo by Gerald Ewing
NCAA Division III school McMurry University overcame a crowd of 31,634 at the Alamodome, scored a touchdown with 19 seconds to play, and defeated Division I-FCS UT-San Antonio 24-21 Saturday afternoon. Jake Mullin found Delfonte Diamond from 32 yards out with 19 seconds to play for the winning score.
The War Hawks took a 10-0 lead to the locker room at half before the Roadrunners scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to gain the lead at 14-10.
Then, in a wild fourth quarter, the two teams exchanged possessions with punts before the Roadrunners took the ball with 9:09 to play. Will Morris forced a fumble on the first down for McMurry, but UTSA recovered. Then, Chris Williams tackled quarterback Eric Soza for a loss of four yards. The Roadrunners’ third-down completion fell short of a first down and Williams blocked the ensuing punt and Markell Rice picked up the ball and returned it for an 8-yard score.
McMurry regained the lead at 17-14. Then, the War Hawks defense stepped up again forcing a 3-and-out. However, D.J. Baiza muffed the punt on a fair-catch attempt and the Roadrunners recovered the ball on the McMurry 46-yard line.
Five plays later, UTSA regained the lead when David Glasco capped a scoring drive with a seven-yard run for a score. With a 21-17 lead, UTSA kicked off to McMurry and the War Hawks began a drive with 3:02 remaining on their own 18-yard line.
The War Hawks were forced into a fourth down situation on the sixth play of the drive at the McMurry 37-yard line. While being hit by a Roadrunner defender, Mullin was able to float the ball to Austin Brooks, who in turn ran 27 yards after the catch breaking several tackles for a 30-yard gain to the UTSA 33-yard line. After a one-yard rush, Mullin threw the first touchdown pass of the season to Diamond on a post route over the middle.
“I was pleased with how our kids hung in there and fought,” said head coach Hal Mumme. “It’s always good to get a comeback win; After coming back to win a game like this, it just does wonders for your offensive confidence.”
Diamond finished with several key plays throughout the game and tallied seven receptions for 142 yards and the game-winning score. Mullin completed 29 of 45 passes for 372 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Mullin also scored McMurry’s first offensive touchdown of the season in the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Mullin said he felt like he knew McMurry would drive the field at the end.
““For some reason, I knew we were going to score. That is why I told D.J. [Baiza] not to worry about his muffled punt,” he said. “Whenever we converted the block for the touchdown, it just felt like this win was supposed to happen.”
Defensively, McMurry surrendered 487 yards of offense, but came through at key times. Austin Cleere intercepted a pass in the redzone in the first half to negate a potential scoring drive, the War Hawks broke up six passes and had five tackles for a loss. Cleere and Morris each had 10 tackles while Gene Hudson was credited with four pass breakups including a touchdown saving breakup in the end zone, which led to McMurry’s Baiza blocking a field-goal attempt by UTSA to keep the score at 10-0.
Out of all the McMurry players on the team, Baiza may have been the happiest after the War Hawks had a chance to eat clock late in the fourth before his muffed punt sent the game into late dramatics.
“I don’t even know where to start. I guess that’s why they call it a team. You have people that will pick you up,” Baiza said. “As soon as I got back from the punt return and fumbling the ball, our team leader, Jake Mullin, came up to me and told me not to worry. Then right after that, he made that remarkable play to get the touchdown.”
Following Diamond’s score, McMurry squib kicked the ball where the Roadrunners took over at their own 44-yard line. Hudson broke up a Hail Mary attempt to the end zone and then UTSA completed a pass, lateralled twice before McMurry tackled the Roadrunners at the McMurry 22-yard line with no time on the clock.
McMurry’s fan section dwarfed by the 30,000-plus crowd in the northwest corner of the Alamodome were the only ones making noise at the end. The War Hawks rushed over to the fans, said the Lord’s prayer, and sang the school song.
The War Hawks’ win over UT-San Antonio is believed to mark the first time an NCAA Division III school has defeated an NCAA Division I scholarship program since UW-La Crosse beat South Dakota State in 2006.
“It is big for our program. To come into a stadium like this and be able to get away with a win is a big thing,” Mumme said. “But at the end, it’s a growth process as we’re moving from D-III to D-II next year. We wanted to play on some bigger stages and get used to that.”
McMurry improved to 1-1 while UT-San Antonio dropped to 1-1.
The War Hawks will turn their attention to their 8-game American Southwest Conference schedule where the road becomes no easier. McMurry heads to Belton on Saturday to face No. 5-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor at 6 p.m.