Remember the 25th anniversary of our national title
A picture of the 1985 Hillsdale College Chargers football team hangs in the display window in the Sports Complex’s front lobby. The picture says “National Champions.” Does that mean that Hillsdale won the 1985 NAIA Champion Bowl?
Not quite. The game against Central Arkansas on Dec. 21, 1985, ended in a 10-10 tie. The bowl did not have overtime. According to the NAIA, both teams could say they were national champions.
As a result, Hillsdale received national championship rings.
Besides that, Carl Pursell, congressman of the district that included Hillsdale County, honored the team in the U.S. House
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring tribute to a college which, although lacking the reputation of a football powerhouse, successfully stayed the course to win a national football championship last month,” Pursell said.
“Just before Christmas, the 1985 Hillsdale Chargers delivered their championship gift by playing to a 10-10 tie with the Central Arkansas Bears. As Head Coach Dick Lowry said after the game, ‘Winning a title is not just for Dick Lowry or just the football team. It’s for all Michigan, it’s for the Hillsdale people and for the college.'”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chargers’ remarkable achievement. On Saturday, the team will be honored at halftime at the homecoming game against the Univ. of Findlay.
The ’85 Chargers boasted the nation’s best defense and an outstanding offense. Many on that team plan to attend the ceremony, including Mike Gatt, who played quarterback and who was inducted into the Hillsdale College Sports Hall of Fame last May; Jeff Lantis, a receiver who had set records in career receptions and career yards and who is now director of Hillsdale College Admissions; and Dave Mifsud, who set a school record with 787 reception yards in 1985.
In the championship game, Mifsud shined for another reason.
With only three minutes left in the fourth quarter, and with Hillsdale on its own 42-yard line trailing 10-3, Gatt went back to throw a pass. Facing a blitz, Gatt needed to scramble. While on the run, he threw a pass that was caught by Scott Sugg at mid-field. Sugg, a flanker who had caught only three passes all season, needed one block to break down field. Mifsud delivered that block, and Sugg ran for the touchdown.
Inducted into the Hillsdale College Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, the 1985 Chargers’ football team is Hillsdale’s only sports team to win a national title.
-Stephen Casai, known as “Saga” Steve, serves as customer service representative of the Knorr Family Dining Room