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From 1973-1985, the Championship Game was played at five different sites during this thirteen year span.  At this time, the game held more of a distinction as a bowl game, rather than a championship game.   It was played under such names as the Camelia Bowl, Pioneer Bowl, and Palm Bowl.  

In 1985, The University of North Alabama traveled to McAllen, TX to face North Dakota State University in the Palm Bowl.  Although UNA's 35-7 loss to the Bison was something most UNA fans would choose to forget, it was also the start of history in the making for Florence and the Shoals Area.  A group of residents, led by Grady Liles, left McAllen that day with the dream of bringing the championship game to the Shoals.

Part of the allure of the game in the Shoals would be the possibility of teams from the Southeast, Alabama, and possibly even UNA competing for a national championship here in Florence.  A bid was presented to the NCAA, accepted, and the dream of those residents in McAllen that day became reality.  The Shoals National Championship Committee was formed with the vision of giving the game a new identity.  The SNCC’s plan was to portray the game for what it actually was: a true national championship game instead of a bowl game. Therefore, the name of the game was simply changed to the “NCAA Division II National Championship Game".

Through the creation of a true championship atmosphere, the many events surrounding Championship Week, and the creation of the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II football had finally found a home, and Florence became the Division II Football Capital.  Over the years there have been many memorable games here in the Shoals.  In 1986, the inaugural game in the Shoals, North Dakota State defeated South Dakota.  Remember 1989, when an unusual December snow storm dumped over 2" of snow on the eve of the game?  Probably the most memorable game took place in 1993.   In one of the few Division II Championship Games that pitted undefeated teams, North Alabama held off Indiana, PA for the title after a furious fourth quarter that saw 37 points scored.  A blocked punt by Israel Raybon ignited North Alabama, as the Lions overcame a 24-14 deficit with just nine minutes left in the game, and scored 27 fourth-quarter points.  The Lions led 14-3, trailed 24-14, led 34-24, then saw IUP tie the game at 34 with just 45 seconds left.  The triple-option Lions then had 69 yards to go with less than one minute left to play.  UNA Quarterback Cody Gross put together a six play scoring drive, scoring from one yard out with just :10 seconds left in the game. 

The game was televised nationally by ESPN, and following the game Division II Football Committee Chairman Doug Porter said, "Division II will never be the same again.  This day has taken Division II football to a level it has never seen before.

There are many memories, electrifying plays, outstanding players and teams, and last-second scoring drives yet to come at Braly Stadium.  Why not be a part of the Championship game?

 
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Shoals National Championship Committee
20 Hightower Place
Florence, AL 35631; U.S.A.