Top-ranked Mount Union returned two interceptions for touchdowns, including a 76-yarder by Gabe Brown with just under five minutes to play, and the Purple Raiders held off 13th-ranked Johns Hopkins, 28-20, in an NCAA Division III football semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.
With the win, Mount Union (14-0) advanced to next week's national championship game against Mary Hardin-Baylor, which topped Wisconsin-Whitewater 31-14 in the other semifinal. The Purple Raiders, winners of 29 consecutive games, advanced to the national title game for the 21st time.
The Blue Jays, making their first appearance in a the semifinal round, had an 11-game winning streak snapped and ended the season at 12-2.
Mount Union had the ball and a 21-6 lead late in the third quarter, but Hopkins got an interception from freshman Nick Seidel that shifted the momentum in JHU's favor. Eight plays and 51 yards later, the JHU scored on a 7-yard touchdown run from senior Stuart Walters to pull within seven at 21-13 with 13:28 to play.
The Purple Raiders drove to the Hopkins 6-yard line on their next possession, but Johns Hopkins again forced a turnover, this time an interception by Michael Curry in the end zone.
The Blue Jays then marched from their own 20 to the Mount Union 24. But on a second-down pass attempt, junior quarterback David Tammaro was hit as he threw, and Brown stepped in front of the intended receiver and raced untouched down the sideline for what proved to be the decisive score.
Hopkins pulled within 28-20 with just under two minutes remaining, covering 77 yards in four plays, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Walters. Sophomore Ryan Hubley had two receptions that covered 70 of the 77 yards on the drive.
But Mount Union recovered an onside kick attempt by the Blue Jays and ran out the final 1:54 to secure the win. Complete box score
The Blue Jays defense held the Mount Union offense to just two touchdowns—the Purple Raiders entered the game averaging 52.9 points per game.