By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team blew open a tight game with 60 consecutive points and the Cru rolled to a 67-20 victory over East Texas Baptist Saturday afternoon at Crusader Stadium in Belton.
UMHB clinched a share of the American Southwest Conference title by handing the Tigers their first conference loss and sets up a tri-championship with UMHB, ETBU and Hardin-Simmons.
UMHB grabbed a 7-0 lead when Zach Anderson threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to DeNerian Thomas on the Cru’s first offensive play. UMHB forced a punt on ETBU’s ensuing possession but fumbled the ball away to the Tigers on the Cru’s 13-yard line.
Kendall Roberson scored on a nine-yard run three players later, but ETBU missed the extra point to leave UMHB with a 7-6 lead. Wykeyhe Walker hauled in a 23-yard TD pass from Anderson, Malcom Miller scored on a one-yard run on the next Cru possession and Anderson hit Jaron Dykstra with a 17-yard scoring strike the next time UMHB had the ball to make it 20-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Blake Jackson threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Thomas and added a 33-yard TD scamper in the second quarter to give UMHB a 34-6 halftime edge.
Miller sandwiched touchdown runs of one and eight yards around Jacob O’Neill’s 42-yard field goal. The Crusaders added a safety to make it 60-6 at the end of three quarters.
Jackson added a 15-yard touchdown pass to Trevian Medlock early in the fourth quarter before ETBU tacked on two touchdowns in late going to cut it to the final margin.
The Cru rolled up 644 yards of total offense and threw for 439 yards in the victory to help overcome four first half turnovers. UMHB’s defense limited ETBU to 307 yards of total offense, but a chunk of those yards came in the fourth quarter. The Tigers managed just 49 rushing yards in the loss and turned the ball over four times.
Anderson finished 20-of-28 for 344 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
“We just tried to take what they were giving us,” Anderson said. “They were trying to bring the corner over. The line did really well.”
Jackson threw for 94 yards and two scores and added 52 rushing yards and a score. Miller had 54 yards to go with his three touchdowns. Walker had eight catches for 152 yards and Thomas added five grabs for 100 yards.
“There wasn’t any stutter points today,” Belton head coach Pete Fredenburg said. “398 yards in the first half is pretty good production. And the two interceptions in the red zone. Not too bad.”
Matt Cody led the Cru defense with 11 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss and Baylor Mullins had 10 tackles and two interceptions.
“Coach (Larry) Harmon and the staff did a great job preparing us for ETBU,” Mullins said. “They put us in the right spot, told us where we were supposed to be and reading the quarterback’s eyes.”
“I think everybody came together this week in practice,” linebacker Teidrick Smith said. “When we met on Sunday, it was an emotional experience. It was a good one. Everybody bonded and came together as a team.”
Roberson finished with 86 yards and two scores on 26 carries. Josh Warbington was 28-of-41 passing for 258 yards, was sacked three times and intercepted three times.
Tyler Bates caught 15 passes for 179 yards for the Tigers. Xavier Davis had a team-best nine tackles and Sam Williams intercepted two passes for the Tigers.
UMHB closes out the regular season at 9-1 overall and 4-1 in ASC play with the victory.
The game was the final regular season home game for 16 UMHB seniors.
The Cru has now won at least a share of 11 straight ASC Championships and 13 of the last 14 league titles. ETBU wins a share of the conference title for just the second time in program history. This is only the second tri-championship in ASC history. UMHB, ETBU and Hardin-Simmons also shared the title in 2003.
The Cru will have a rematch with Hardin-Simmons on Saturday at Noon in the first round of the NCAA Division III National Championship Playoffs.