2016 postseason: UMHB rides D to first national title

Blake Jackson gets congratulations from center Colton Hall after his second-quarter TD run. It was the Cru's only TD.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
Dylan Hecker gets the ball into the end zone for a UW-Oshkosh touchdown on its opening drive.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com

SALEM -- Twelve years after getting its first taste of Salem, Mary Hardin-Baylor hoisted the Walnut & Bronze at Stagg Bowl XLIV. 

The undefeated and No. 1-ranked Crusaders overcame a turnover deficit to beat UW-Oshkosh 10-7 on Friday evening. It was the first national championship for the UMHB program, which was founded in 1998 and led since then by current head coach Pete Fredenburg.

All-American UMHB quarterback Blake Jackson was chosen as the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

Amid the biting chill of the Virginia mountain air, it was the defenses that often dominated while the offenses struggled to find opportunities to make anything happen. The game was the second-lowest scoring Stagg Bowl in history, and the teams came nowhere close to the nearly 500 yards of offense that they each average per game -- UMHB was held to 332, while Oshkosh was at 215.

UMHB played a deliberate game of patience and adaptability, improving upon a slow start on both sides of the ball. The opening drives for each team couldn’t have been more different: Mary Hardin-Baylor stumbled to a three-and-out while UW-Oshkosh running back Dylan Hecker found the end zone, capping a 64-yard drive. Hecker’s score would ultimately end up being UW-O’s only points of the game.

Momentum then changed; the Crusaders, who have eight All-Americans on the team, controlled much of the remainder of the game. They strung together 17 first downs and stopped the Titans twice on downs deep in Cru territory. Despite the edge that UMHB appeared to hold, the Titans remained in the game partly because of Cru penalties and forced turnovers.

Jackson carried the ball for 28 times totaling 119 yards, far surpassing his season-best 19 carries. He also had 171 passing yards. Defensively, Matt Cody led the team with 10 tackles, including two tackles for loss. His interception with 35 seconds to go in the game sealed UMHB’s win.

"Going into the week we knew that was how the game was going to be," Jackson said. "Coaches harped on being patient all week. I thought we did a great job of doing that."

"This has been an incredible journey for all of these guys and for our football team, and what a gratifying win," said UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg. 

For Oshkosh, Cody Yoder and Jake Thein each had eight tackles; Thein also had a fumble recovery. Quarterback Brett Kasper went 20-for-31 passing for 185 yards.

Check out the full coverage of Stagg Bowl XLIII, postseason coverage and much more with the links below, then follow further down for headlines from even more playoff coverage.

2016 Division III football playoffs

December 17, 2016 2016 NCAA Division III football playoff bracket The final results, all 31 games, with Mary Hardin-Baylor finishing on top in Stagg Bowl XLIV.

December 17, 2016 Podcast: Stagg Bowl thoughts, how we picked awards Our crew convened at Mac and Bob's after the game in Salem to record our final podcast of the season and we were pleased to see Cru players, include Blake Jackson, walk into the room. Hear from him and our folks in Salem on the final 2016 podcast.

December 16, 2016 UMHB breaks through on second trip to Salem It's been a long time coming for Mary-Hardin Baylor. A loooong time. Keith McMillan has more from Salem.

December 16, 2016 Defense carried the day for the Cru Mary Hardin-Baylor got just enough offense to get it done and the other side of the ball was the big star for the Crusaders in Stagg Bowl XLIV. Adam Turer has more on the battle in Salem.

December 16, 2016 UMHB wins title in defensive nail-biter The undefeated and No. 1-ranked Crusaders overcame a turnover deficit to beat UW-Oshkosh 10-7 on Friday evening. It was the first national championship for the UMHB program.

December 15, 2016 Quick Hits predicts the Stagg Bowl Six Quick Hits were not enough for this week -- they never are. We always expand our panel for the Stagg Bowl and this week we've done so as well, with guests who cover Mary Hardin-Baylor and UW-Oshkosh. And with nine panelists, we have a 5-4 split decision on our winner.

December 15, 2016 Cru looking to finish the journey As part of this run to Salem, Mary Hardin-Baylor has vanquished some old foes. But UW-Oshkosh presents a different level of challenge for the Crusaders. Adam Turer has more in a Road to Salem feature.

December 14, 2016 Amid the hubbub, Oshkosh's focus still on football All of this is completely new for UW-Oshkosh: traveling to Salem, playing in the Stagg Bowl. But the Titans remain focused on the task at hand heading into Friday night's game with Mary Hardin-Baylor. More in a Road to Salem feature by Josh Smith.

December 13, 2016 Five plays to Salem: How UMHB advanced Like UW-Oshkosh, Mary Hardin-Baylor advanced in a defensive battle. Keith McMillan walks us through the key plays that helped the Crusaders get past Mount Union and into Stagg Bowl XLIV.

December 12, 2016 ATN Podcast: Breaking down the semifinals Our podcast team was truly around the nation, as Keith McMillan was in Texas and Pat Coleman was in Wisconsin for the national semifinals. Our breakdown has commentary from players and coaches at both games, along with players to watch on offense and defense for Friday’s Stagg Bowl.

December 11, 2016 Five plays to Salem: How Oshkosh advanced The Titans survived a defensive slugfest with John Carroll. We talked to the players and coaches involved in five key plays that secured UW-Oshkosh's first Stagg Bowl berth.

December 10, 2016 UMHB ends Mount Union's Salem reign The Crusader defense harassed Mount Union's freshman quarterback into three interceptions and stopped a two-point conversion attempt in the closing minutes to win 14-12, ending the Purple Raiders' title defense.

December 10, 2016 Titans advance in defensive battle UW-Oshkosh won the lowest-scoring national semifinal in Division III football history and advanced to the Stagg Bowl for the first time, defeating John Carroll 10-3 on Saturday afternoon.

December 9, 2016 Quick Hits: Our take on the semifinals We've spent all week telling you about these teams and now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Our six quick-hitters give you their predictions on each of Saturday's two games, and you're guaranteed to see something you've never seen before.

December 8, 2016 Mount Union and UMHB: The throwback semifinal The Purple Raiders and the Cru have met in two semifinal matchups previously, in 2004 and 2012. Here's a look back at those two classic games, both won in the closing seconds.

December 8, 2016 He's the Match Brett Kasper is not just a match for UW-Oshkosh at quarterback -- he also happens to Be The Match for a little girl in Indiana who is battling leukemia. Her fight continues to inspire the Titans. More in a Road to Salem feature by Erik Buchinger.

December 7, 2016 The Cru's secret weapon The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football program has a lot of well-documented things going for them on the field. But it's a 6-year-old girl who has been the Crusaders' hidden advantage, who has taught them all about battling adversity. Adam Turer has more in a Road to Salem feature.

December 7, 2016 Making history all over again The first and last time John Carroll reached the semifinals, quarterback Tom Arth was in a Blue Streaks uniform. Fourteen years later, head coach Tom Arth is sharing his experience with his former teammates and current players. Joe Sager has more on the Road to Salem.

December 5, 2016 Veteran anchors lead Purple Raiders offense While three freshmen saw time at quarterback, senior linemen Brooks Jenkins and Mitch Doraty made sure the offense didn't miss a beat. Their leadership has the Purple Raiders offense clicking as they aim to return to Salem. Brian Lester has more on the Road to Salem.

December 5, 2016 Podcast: New faces mean new excitement You've been asking for this for years, haven't you? There will be one team in the Stagg Bowl for the first time. And Mount Union gave up a ton of yards, while UMHB didn't get very many, but both survived. Pat and Keith talk through it all, plus preview the semifinal games, in this week's Around the Nation Podcast.

December 3, 2016 It won't just be a purple party Defense, turnovers, and special teams plays made the difference across the four national quarterfinal matchups on Saturday. Host Mary Hardin-Baylor and road teams Mount Union, John Carroll, and UW-Oshkosh advanced to within two wins of a title, which means someone new will be in Salem.

December 2, 2016 Quick Hits: Score predictions, game by game Down to four games on Saturday, and our Quick Hits crew shares not just Saturday's final scores, but their thoughts on the four quarterfinals. How each game will go down, in Quick Hits.

December 1, 2016 Freshmen follow one path, but to two destinations Two freshmen are expected to get starts at quarterback in Saturday's national quarterfinals. And not only are they both from the same conference, but they both have gotten coaching from the same Gagliardi Trophy winner. Adam Turer has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 30, 2016 UWO, UST set for 'old-school' showdown By the time you get to December, often teams are forced by the weather to revert to an older style of football. But in the case of St. Thomas and UW-Oshkosh, it's a sincere love of playing the game that way. Joe Sager has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 29, 2016 Feeling at home and healthy at Whitewater Drew Patterson's family legacy drew him to UW-Whitewater, after a one-year detour. He and several key teammates are getting healthy at just the right time for the surging Warhawks. Josh Smith has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 29, 2016 Defensive line depth fuels John Carroll John Carroll's defense has been impressive all year, but the Blue Streaks have taken it to another level this postseason. It all starts with the 11-man rotation up front. Joe Sager has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 29, 2016 Making the plays when it counts Alfred's defense has not been the most impressive unit this postseason, but the Saxons have found ways each week to make game-saving plays and keep their season alive. Adam Turer has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 28, 2016 Thunder roll into December Wheaton is back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. The Thunder made it this far behind a defense that wins in the trenches and overpowered its rival in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Brian Lester has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 28, 2016 ATN Podcast: Over-the-top defenses There was a lot of defense to talk about this week, and if you listen to our podcast, you know what that means! Defenses came up big in expected places, such as Whitewater, Wis., or University Heights, Ohio, but the other games featured some surprisingly stout defensive performances as well.

November 26, 2016 Mount survives; JCU advances; Wheaton eliminates archrival The Purple Raiders returned to the quarterfinals by pitching a second-half shutout, while the Blue Streaks moved on in two overtimes and the Cru rolled in the rematch. More from the playoff's second round.

November 25, 2016 Quick Hits: Score predictions, game by game Eight games, times six opinions means there are 48 total score predictions for Saturday. But, spoilers, the group thinks all eight second-round games should be good. How each game will go down, in Quick Hits.

November 23, 2016 Living to play another week For teams that needed until the final play to wrap up Saturday's first-round games, what comes next is putting the drama behind them and getting ready for the second round. More in a Road to Salem feature by Adam Turer.

November 22, 2016 Secrets take a back seat in Round 2 rematch You can't get more familiar than North Central and Wheaton are. Conference rivals -- archrivals, with a trophy game, in fact -- separated by just 8.1 miles of the Chicago suburbs. So when they meet in the second round, there's little they don't already know about each other. Ryan Tipps has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 22, 2016 Opportunistic Kohawks make history Coe set a program record with nine takeaways in Saturday's win, and another record with the team's 11th win of the season. Up next is another big opportunity for a team that loves to take advantage. Adam Turer has more on the Road to Salem.

November 22, 2016 Linfield playing for 'One Moore' game Parker Moore was tragically killed two years ago, but his senior classmates keep him close to their hearts each day. A different Wildcat dons Moore's number 35 jersey and plays inspired football. They don't want this season to end. Josh Smith has more on the Road to Salem.

November 22, 2016 No pressure, no panic for top-ranked Cru Mary Hardin-Baylor entered the postseason as the number one team in the country, but is not looking ahead. After overcoming a halftime deficit against Redlands, the Crusaders have their hands full as Linfield comes to town for a rematch. Brian Lester has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 21, 2016 Purple Raiders find success on the road A playoff road game is unfamiliar territory for Mount Union, but the Purple Raiders found positives in their trip to Hobart. They also came away with an opening-round victory. Joe Sager has more in a Road to Salem feature.

November 20, 2016 Around the Nation Podcast: Tense moments Whether you were among the excited, with no rooting interest, or among the tense, with your season hanging in the balance, Saturday was a great time to be a Division III football fan. Three games came down to the final play, and Pat and Keith talk about them in detail, as well as the other 13 first-round games, in this week's podcast.

November 19, 2016 Johnnies win in walkoff fashion; Coe survives St. John's scored on the final play of the game to defeat UW-Platteville in a first-round thriller in Collegeville, while Coe made just enough of Monmouth's turnovers pay and the top seeds advanced easily in the St. Thomas bracket.

November 19, 2016 Wittenberg advances in four overtimes In the UW-Whitewater bracket, three home teams advanced. The lone outlier was Wittenberg, and the Tigers needed four extra frames before Will Gingery's field goal won it at Thomas More.

November 19, 2016 Rematches set for Texas, Illinois Mary Hardin-Baylor survived an early scare to advance in the first round, while Linfield won on its second trip to Texas of the season and CCIW foes North Central and Wheaton advanced in easy fashion.

November 19, 2016 Alfred survives, Mount Union advances In the Alfred bracket, the top seed needed overtime to beat Bridgewater State, while Mount Union won going away at Hobart and Jim Margraff picked up his 200th career win. More in the roundup of the bottom left bracket.

November 18, 2016 Quick Hits: Score predictions, game by game Do we expect a close game? A high-scoring game? A blowout? Does everyone agree on who will win? We've got six opinions on how each game will go down -- catch them in Quick Hits.

November 17, 2016 Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments Around the Nation has assembled a team of prognosticators for an annual look at who might surprise and disappoint us in the 32-team playoff.

November 16, 2016 2016 playoffs: Mary Hardin-Baylor bracket From Mary Hardin-Baylor to Redlands, here's how the eight teams in the top-left bracket shake out.

November 16, 2016 2016 playoffs: UW-Whitewater bracket From Whitewater to Lakeland, here's how the eight teams in the bottom-right bracket shake out. These are the annual D3football.com playoff team capsules, now with even more information.

November 16, 2016 2016 playoffs: St. Thomas bracket From St. Thomas to Northwestern (Minn.), here's how the eight teams in the top-right bracket shake out.

November 16, 2016 2016 playoffs: Alfred bracket From Alfred to Bridgewater State, here's how the eight teams in the bottom-left bracket shake out.

November 14, 2016 Take the bracket challenge! Head on over to our partners, d3challenge.com, to fill out your bracket challenge for the Division III football playoffs! Don't delay -- get your picks out before 11 a.m. Saturday.

November 17, 2016 Upstate-to-West Palm combination serves Hobart Hobart receiver Brandon Shed hails from sunny West Palm Beach, so handling winter in upstate New York is something he wasn’t prepared for. But his quarterback, Shane Sweeney, calls Geneva, N.Y., home.

November 16, 2016 The time is now The adage “make the most of your opportunity” is used frequently. But it really hits home at St. Thomas. Up and down the lineup, players on the Tommies’ roster have prepared for their moment and seized the chance to excel. Josh Smith has more in Around the West.

November 16, 2016 A focus on the family at UMHB UMHB star Baylor Mullins played high school ball with his father and brother as his coaches. Today, his dad is helping to coach the Cru, just on the opposite side of the ball. More in Around the South.

November 15, 2016 A proper send-off Randolph-Macon's senior class is special. It's not just what they've accomplished on the field, including a record-tying nine wins and a return to the playoffs; these young men have done it the right way. More in Around the Mid-Atlantic.

November 14, 2016 Podcast: Best picks, toughest road and more We'll hear from the NCAA chair, get Keith's view on his alma mater clinch a bid and yes, that John Carroll-Mount Union game. Plus, we'll discuss who got the best draw, what the best first-round games are, if the committee got anything wrong and more in this week's Around the Nation Podcast.

November 13, 2016 Final NCAA regional ranking for 2016 The NCAA released its final regional rankings of the season -- this is the version of the rankings the NCAA committee used version to determine the (secret) seedings and at-large bids.

November 13, 2016 Playoff bracket announced, with pleasant surprises All those things you thought wouldn't happen in this bracket? They did -- including one that costs the NCAA some extra money. Check out the full 2016 NCAA Division III football playoff bracket.

November 12, 2016 Our projected playoff bracket If you stayed up late on Saturday night, you heard our bracketology crew debate the playoff selections. We then took those 32 teams away and put a bracket together. Here's what we came up with:

November 10, 2016 The D3football Bracketology Show On Saturday night, the NCAA committee will be meeting to seed and select the playoff teams. And we're doing the same. Join us as we go through a mock selection call and tell you what your team's chances are, and where they could play.

November 10, 2016 Projected playoff bracket: Who's in, who goes where? The question on many people's minds is whether UW-Platteville will get a playoff bid. But St. John Fisher fans are welcome to ask the same question. As are Wabash fans. And John Carroll fans. And so on and so on ... Here's our take on the playoff scenarios.

November 10, 2016 Fill out your 2016 bracket! Here's a blank bracket you can use to follow along with on Sunday's 6 p.m. ET selection show.

More 2016 Division III football playoff coverage