The 1981 NAIA National Championship Austin College football team will be inducted into the college’s Athletics Hall of Honor this summer, the Athletics Department has announced. The ’Roo football team coached by Larry Kramer to an 11-1-1 record will be honored at the annual Austin College Legends Weekend, taking place July 15-17, in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the historic championship.
The football program was lifted to new heights on December 12, 1981, when, after trailing Concordia University of Minnesota 24-21, ’Roo kicker Gene Branum blasted a 57-yard field goal with just 1:22 remaining to knot things up and give Austin College a share of the title. The field goal broke the NAIA playoff record for distance and gave the athletics program what is to this day its lone national championship.
The tie capped off a season that saw the ‘Roos drop just one game, an early season loss to Sul Ross State, before reeling off 10 straight wins heading into the national championship game, which was played at Louis Calder Stadium on the Austin College campus.
That year’s team was littered with All-America honorees, led by quarterback Larry Shillings, who was named to the Kodak All-America and NAIA All-America teams, in addition to being named the TIAA Offensive Player of the Year. The ‘Roos also featured defensive back Chris Luper, another NAIA All-American and the TIAA Defensive Player of the Year. Branum also would earn All-America honors, along with Rory Dukes, Clay Oliphint, and Larry Hickman. The team also featured current Austin College athletics director David Norman and Sherman mayor Bill Magers.
The team will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Honor on Saturday, July 16, at the Legends Gala, along with former Kangaroo standouts Robert Van Schoick, Gerald Blankenship, Steve Burket, Jack “Scooter” Nolen, Robert Campbell. and Lindsay McFadden.
Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.