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North Central College Falls Short To Mary Hardin-Baylor In Division III National Championship Game

CANTON, Ohio (CBS/AP) -- North Central College tried to repeat as Division III national champions Friday night as they took on Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

The North Central Cardinals had an impressive start in the Stagg Bowl in Canton, Ohio. Deangelo Hardy took the opening kick 93 yards for the score, quickly bringing the score to 7-0 with a touchdown.

It was the longest kickoff return for a touchdown in the history of the National Championship Game.

But it was kind of all downhill after that.

Mary-Hardin Baylor's Kyle King threw for 445 and three touchdowns, and the Crusaders' Alphonso Thomas rushed for two more scores. Mary Hardin-Baylor broke away at halftime and kept going.

Brandon Cunningham kicked a 20-yard field goal, his third of the night, to open the fourth quarter. Kenneth Cormier added an 11-yard run just two minutes later after an interception.

Mary Hardin-Baylor's Mikkah Hackett picked off a dart from Luke Lehnen on fourth down as the Cru had dropped eight players into pass coverage. Hackett returned the interception, Lehnen's third and final of the game, 26 yards to the North Central 46, setting up Cormier's touchdown.

The 24-0 run put Mary Hardin-Baylor in control as it headed to its second national championship and first since the 2018 season.

King broke Mary Hardin-Baylor's single-game record for passing yards in a game. The previous mark was 397 yards.

And the unbeaten Cardinals finally met their match. Their fantastic season ended with a 57-24 loss in the championship game.

This was the third title in six years for Mary Hardin-Baylor.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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