FLORENCE — His players might not know a lot about the winning tradition at Texas A&M-Kingsville, but head coach Bobby Wallace knows all about Javelinas.
Wallace coached against Texas A&M-Kingsville four times during his first tenure as coach of the Lions, winning all four games. Included in those four wins are two of the biggest in school history.
The first was a 27-25 win in the semifinals of the 1993 Division II playoffs. That win put UNA in the title game for the first time at Braly Stadium. The Lions went on to beat Indiana-Pennsylvania 41-34 in the championship game, giving UNA its first national championship.
UNA was in the title game again in 1994, this time against the Javelins. The Lions held on for a 16-10 victory and their second straight national title.
“I told the players Sunday night about the history with Texas A&M-Kingsville that goes back to the championship years,” Wallace said. “We had to hold them on a 2-point conversion at the end of the game to not go in overtime in 1993.
“Then we played them in the championship game in 1994. Ronald McKinnon intercepted a pass late in the game and Paul Sanders intercepted another one after that to win the second championship.”
The two teams would meet again in a home-and-home series in 1996-97. UNA won 24-7 in Kingsville in the 1996 game, while the Lions won at 17-12 at home the next season.
“They were excited about us coming there in 1996 after playing the first two times at Braly,” Wallace said. “We were only 6-5 that year, but we were able to upset them at their place.”
UNA (4-1) and the Javelinas (2-3) will meet again Saturday at Javelinas Stadium in Kingsville. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Texas A&M-Kingsville and UNA have a lot in common. Both have multiple national championships. Johnny Bailey won three Harlon Hill trophies for the Javelinas from 1987-89, while UNA has two Hill Trophy winners in Ronald McKinnon (1995) and Will Hall (2003).
UNA has three members of the Division II Football Hall of Fame in Wallace, McKinnon and Cody Gross. The Javelinas have four members in Bailey, Darrell Green, Earl Dotson and John Randle.
“The traditions are there,” Wallace said. “It’s two of the storied programs in Division II playing each other, sort of like Alabama and Michigan playing this year. It doesn’t matter who is on the field now, it’s the things that have happened in the past that make it very important.”
Junior guard David Lundberg said Wallace made sure the players know about the history of the series as well as the tradition at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“He said they are a lot like us in that they have a lot of history, they will play hard and they are used to winning,” Lundberg said. “They will come out playing to win. Coach Wallace said we are undefeated against them, so we certainly don’t want that to change.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.