Annapolis Ends the Year On a High Note: Football is coming to town!

stagg bowl

The NCAA Division III National Championship is in Annapolis, Maryland. The title match at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium features the famed University of Mount Union (OH) battling a promising North Central College (IL) football program. Catch the game Friday, December 16th at 7:00 pm EST. Watch the game on ESPNU or find tickets with this link:


You know what they say about Maryland; Crab Cakes & Football baby! The NCAA Division III championship game, or Stagg Bowl as it is commonly known, presents the opportunity to demonstrate what the phrase truly embodies, which many interpret as competitiveness and hospitality.

“We’re really excited for Stevenson University and the Naval Academy to host the Stagg Bowl in Annapolis,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of Maryland Sports Commission. “Annapolis and Anne Arundel County are a great destination for fans from across the country who will visit Maryland this weekend, and the holiday season is a wonderful time of year to enjoy all of the festivities currently taking place in our State Capital.”

Only a few weeks ago, the Maryland High School Football State Finals were played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Now, the Stagg Bowl is coming to town. The best part is it doesn’t end there. On December 28th, the United States Naval Academy will host the 2022 Military Bowl presented by Peraton featuring UCF (Central Florida) vs. Duke. These live events – accompanied with the multitude of experiences that Annapolis has to offer – make the city a prime destination throughout the holiday season.

“December is a very busy month for us as an organization. Being able to host the NCAA Division III National Football Championships, the Stagg Bowl, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium – and to have the Military Bowl return after two-years of cancellations – it really showcases Annapolis and Anne Arundel County as a premier ‘College Bowl Destination’,” said Elizabeth Joyner, Director of Sales for Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, a TEAM Maryland partner.

Visit Annapolis is an excellent resource for people coming to visit. Find things to do, places to stay, restaurants to dine, and even places to park. Annapolis is also home to a number of small boutiques and local makers for anyone looking to get in a little last minute shopping ahead of the holidays.

(ABOVE: Photo Credit @NCAADIII Twitter Page)

The 2022 edition of the Stagg Bowl is being hosted by Stevenson University Athletics at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with the assistance of the Naval Academy Athletic Association. Stevenson University Athletic Director Brett Adams said his team is hoping to make a memorable impression on fans and the NCAA, with the goal of adding Maryland to the list of future host sites for the Stagg Bowl which has had successful runs over the years in states like Virginia and Ohio.

The Stagg Bowl began in 1973 with the integration of two regional championships, and laid the foundation for the first ever playoff in college football. A four-team playoff was born when the NCAA decided that the winner of the “Knute Rockne” Eastern regionals should compete with the victor of the Alonzo Amos “Stagg” Western regionals for the official title of National Champion. Since its inception, the NCAA Division III playoff evolved by adding teams to the bracket to boost competitiveness. Thirty-two teams now participate in a four-week battle of attrition to be earn the title of National Champion.

This year’s Stagg Bowl matchup includes a perennial powerhouse program in Mount Union against a skillfully crafted and well organized North Central squad. The Purple Raiders of Mount Union have an NCAA record 13 national championships trophies. This would intimidate a lot of teams, but not North Central. The Cardinals will be participating in their third championship appearance in a row, and even defeated the Purple Raiders in last year’s semi-finals.

Mount Union, led by head coach Geoff Dart, looks to continue their legacy as the undisputed best. Senior quarterback Braxton Plunkk carries the Purple Raiders offense with his accuracy and completion percentage. Last week, Plunkk completed 43 of 56 attempts for 396 yards in Mount Union’s nerve racking semi-finals win over Wartburg. However, they are not alone in the fact that they like to find the endzone often. North Central carries an average win margin of 49.5 points throughout the 2022 season. Last week, the North Central squad scored twice before their opponent, Mary Hardin-Baylor, even possessed the ball. The Cardinal’s athletic Sophomore quarterback, Luke Lehnen led the team in rushing yards and threw for four touchdowns. Their offense is balanced and moves the ball at will with a number of rushers on the ground. But you can’t forget the famous Bear Bryant saying, “Defense wins championships”. Both teams are a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball. Mount Union and North Central both come into this championship with five complete game shutout victories – a stat that is truly impressive.

The 2022 Stagg Bowl Championship game is going to be an electric one. Which high powered offense will be able to out-compete the other teams’ brick wall defenses? Whose defense is going to cause the opposing teams’ offense more trouble? This matchup will likely prove to be a testament to which team can impose its will through the entire four quarters of play. Both programs are capable of doing so. One thing is for sure, the city of Annapolis is closing out 2022 with a bang. Look forward to good shopping, good food, good football, and fireworks to cap it all off. Learn more by visiting the Visit Annapolis homepage.

  • Jake Klein, Contributing writer for the Maryland Sports Commission


About Maryland Sports:

Maryland Sports’ mission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events. Maryland Sports is the go-to resource for the sports events and sport tourism industry in the State of Maryland.

About TEAM Maryland:

A statewide initiative designed to collectively market Maryland to the entire sports industry by creating a synergistic approach to the way we market ALL of Maryland as a sports destination.

About Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County:

Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (VAAAC) is a nonprofit, membership-based Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) that generates revenues for the local economy by promoting Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay to leisure and business travelers across the country and around the world. As the county DMO, we execute strategic marketing and sales campaigns that position our portfolio of brands to key markets encouraging first-time as well as repeat visitation to the county. Our strategy combines multi-channel advertising, inbound marketing campaigns, direct sales initiatives, and continued media relationship nurturing.

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