Mount Union books return trip to Salem

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Jake Simon rolls into the end zone untouched with five seconds to go to lift Mount Union to its 16th Stagg Bowl.
Photo by Dan Poel, 

It took all 60 minutes, but No. 1 Mount Union earned its eighth consecutive trip to the Stagg Bowl on Jake Simon's 12-yard touchdown run with five seconds left, breaking a 35-all deadlock with No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor in an epic clash that had been anticipated for much of the season. Matt Fechko returned a mishandled UMHB lateral for the final 48-35 margin.

The Purple Raiders overcame five turnovers with a 34-point fourth quarter, and an 11-catch, 200-yard game from wide receiver Jasper Collins. The Crusaders scored three consecutive touchdowns in an eight-minute span of the second and third quarters, going ahead 28-14 on Brodrick Crain's 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. Box score

Sophomore Purple Raiders quarterback Kevin Burke came back with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Julius Moore to cap a 15-play drive, and then Nyejel Thomas recovered a punt blocked by Hank Spencer for the touchdown that tied the game at 28. Crain forced a Blair Skilliter fumble, and LiDarral Bailey connected with Caleb Moore on a 35-yard pass, then ran it in three yards for a 35-28 lead with 7:30 left.

Burke threw toward Collins four times on another 15-play drive, including an 18-yard pickup on third-and-6. Skilliter tied the game with a 2-yard run with 3:42 left. UMHB went three and out, and Simon ran for 11 yards on third-and-2, and Burke followed with a 25-yard completion to Collins and a 15-yard run to set up the touchdown with five seconds left.

It'll be another all-purple final, as Mount Union (14-0) faces St. Thomas (14-1), which advanced with a 28-14 home win over UW-Oshkosh. Both the Titans and UMHB finish their seasons 13-1.

Linebacker Javicz Jones finished with 10 tackles, an interception and a sack for UMHB, and fellow linebacker Mike Maldonado added 11 tackles. Defensive back Cody Jones had 10.

Mount Union outgained UMHB 457-275, with a 189-162 edge in rushing with nearly the same number of carries. Burke was 20 of 33 for 268 yards and three touchdowns, but had two interceptions and was sacked four times.