- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (AP) - Michael Metter’s 32-yard field goal as time expired lifted No. 2 Linfield to a 38-35 comeback victory over No. 10 Mary Hardin-Baylor in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals on Saturday.

Backup quarterback Tom Knecht, subbing for injured starter Sam Riddle, threw for 492 yards - the fourth most in school history - and five touchdowns, including three in the second half as the Wildcats (12-0) rallied from a 28-14 halftime deficit.

Linfield (12-0) advances to semifinals for the second straight year and will play next Saturday against St. Thomas (Minn.), ranked third by the American Football Coaches Association. The game site and kickoff time will be announced Sunday.

“Awesome for our team,” Linfield coach Joseph Smith said. “We haven’t been in any games like that. I told our guys that this was the first real game we’ve played this year and it was really fun to be a part of that.”

The Wildcats won a 12th game for the first time under Smith, who’s now 94-17 in his 10th season. The last Linfield team to finish unbeaten was the 2004 national champion that defeated Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the title.

The Crusaders (11-2) seemed poised to go ahead after Knecht threw his third interception deep in Linfield territory with 5:18 to play. However, the Wildcats turned the tables on a wild third-down play when an errant center snap was recovered by defensive end Alex Hoff for a 35-yard loss to put Linfield back in business at the UMHB 48 with 3:53 to go.

Six plays later, including a critical third-and-long conversion on Knecht’s 14-yard pass to Johnny Carroll, Metter kicked the game-winner.

The Wildcats were held to 31 rushing yards but finished with a 523-411 edge in total offense. Carroll, who had 10 receptions for 140 yards, and Brian Balsinger, who added seven for 150, each caught two touchdown passes.

The loss was the third in four playoff games against Linfield for the Crusaders, who also saw their season end last fall with a three-point loss to the Wildcats.

“I don’t know that you get over it,” UHMB coach Pete Fredenburg said. “These games are logged in your memory forever.”

Mary Hardin-Baylor will host Linfield to open its 2016 as part of a home-and-home series.

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