INDIANAPOLIS– Hardin-Simmons’ ninth-ranked football team earned one of the five at-large berths into the NCAA playoffs and will travel to San Antonio for a first round game at Trinity on Saturday at noon.

The Cowboys, who were surprisingly left out of the playoffs last year, had a long 24-hour wait after completing their regular season on Saturday with a 45-16 win over Texas Lutheran to finish with the same 9-1 record. The emotions of last year and this year were entirely different as the team watched the selection show in the locker room.

Last year the Cowboys were dinged for their out-of-conference schedule by the committee. HSU was able to schedule a quality Division III non-conference opponent in Wisconsin-Platteville. The Pioneers were a team that beat a pair of teams in the field. HSU’s 41-0 win in Platteville strengthened the Cowboys’ case.

The Cowboys are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since ending a four-year run to the playoffs in 2019. This is the Cowboys’ 11th trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

HSU and Trinity have played a pair of memorable games in the NCAA playoffs. In 1999 Trinity escaped a late Cowboy rally 40-33 in San Antonio. The next year in the national quarterfinals Melvin Dudley knocked away a last-second pass intended for future NFL player Jerheme Urban in the corner of the end zone on the last play of the game to send the Cowboys to the NCAA semifinals. Ironically, Urban is now the Tigers’ head coach.

It was the Cowboys’ last playoff win. HSU is looking to snap an eight-game losing streak in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Trinity is 10-0 on the year and is ranked sixth in the latest poll. The Cowboys won the last meeting between the two teams, 16-10, in 2019 at Shelton Stadium. HSU has won five straight against Trinity and lead the all-time series 23-6-4.