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Alma College football plays for trip to final four

Alma quarterback Carter St. John running the ball against Mount Union on Nov. 25, 2023 in Alliance, OH. The Scots come from behind 24-20 victory over the Purple Raiders have put them in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Div. III playoffs for the first time in program history.
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Alma College
Alma quarterback Carter St. John running the ball against Mount Union on Nov. 25, 2023 in Alliance, OH. The Scots come from behind 24-20 victory over the Purple Raiders have put them in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Div. III playoffs for the first time in program history.

For the first time in school history, the football team at Alma College is vying for a trip to the final four in the NCAA Div. III playoffs this Saturday.

The Scots came from behind to defeat second ranked Mount Union on Nov. 25 to punch their ticket to the quarterfinals.

After being down 10-0 going into the fourth quarter, the Scots scored all of their points in the final 15 minutes for a 24-20 victory over the Purple Raiders, a perennial powerhouse in Div. III football, with 13 national championships to their credit

The playoff run has spilled into the surrounding Alma community. The team was greeted with a police escort, and community members lined the streets to welcome them home after their dramatic victory in Alliance, Ohio.

"I know, you don't get that everywhere," said Alma head football coach Jason Couch, a 1997 graduate of the college. "So many came out of their homes when it was cold, and it was late and cheered for us as we drove through town. So, that's really special."

Going into Couch's first season at the helm in 2018, the football program had never won an NCAA playoff game. Now, over the past two seasons, the Scots have won three, and have a combined overall record of 23-1.

"I’m so grateful to Coach Couch – this year’s MIAA (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) coach of the year – who has built this incredible program," said Alma College President Jeff Abernathy in an emailed statement to WCMU. "We are delighted to host this weekend's NCAA Division III tournament game and we all look forward to cheering on the Scots this Saturday." 

Despite projected temperatures near freezing this Saturday, Couch said he'll be wearing his Alma kilt on the sidelines no matter what, something he's done every home game since 2018. During last season's playoff run, Couch said he wore his Alma tartan when it was 17 degrees and windy.

"People thought I was nuts. But once the game is going it doesn't matter what the temp is," said Couch. "I'd be lying to you if there weren't some superstitions."

Kickoff at Alma's Bahlke Field is scheduled for noon on Saturday against the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.