By Tony Adams
The rain in Belton Saturday night did nothing to dampen the spirit of the Cru faithful, but did hamper the progress on UMHB hosting Sul Ross State.
In a game that featured a combined nine turnovers, 24 penalties and 245 penalty yards, the Cru fought through elements to defeat the Lobos 40-18 at Crusader Stadium.
The Cru took the opening kickoff 51 yards in nine plays. Drew Owen booted a 34-yard field goal to put UMHB on top 3-0 with 11:24 remaining in the first quarter.
Sul Ross’ first possession ended with the game’s first turnover. On third down and 11, Derrick Bernard ran the ball to his own 30-yard line. Deshon Kinsey hit Bernard and stripped the ball loose, Korey Steward recovered the fumble to give UMHB a short field to work with. UMHB converted the turnover into a 44-yard field goal from Owen to go up 6-0.
The Lobos took the next possession and advanced it nine yards on six plays. Logan Fox’ punt attempt was blocked by Hunter Schmidt and was recovered on the Sul Ross 46-yard line. The Cru could not convert the turnover and the teams traded punts.
Zach Anderson started the next drive with a pass completion to Marcus Wimby down to the Sul Ross 45-yard line. Two plays later, Anderson hit Michael Carpenter with a pass out of the backfield. Carpenter scooted around right end and sprinted 45 yards for a touchdown to increase the Cru lead to 13-0 with 1:39 remaining in the quarter.
Silvio Diaz got into the defensive act for the Cru. On third down from the Lobos’ 41-yard line, Diaz rocked Bernard scrambling out of the pocket for a sack. A personal foul penalty on UMHB moved the ball into Cru territory. One play later, Cody Jones intercepted Bernard on the Cru 33-yard line.
UMHB converted the next drive into three points. Anderson found Kamray Runnels on a 13-yard pass play. Carpenter’s shifty running gained 19 yards on the next play. The gain set Owen up for a 45-yard field goal, making the game 16-0 with 11:59 to go in the half.
Sul Ross put together a 11-play, 86-yard drive. Bernard capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cordrick Mobley. The point after attempt was blocked by Steward, as the Lobos narrowed the deficit to 10 points with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cru went three-and-out on the next drive and punted to UMHB. Brodrick Crain intercepted Bernard deep in SRU territory, on their 28-yard line. The Cru were unable to punch the ball into the end zone. Owen’s 48-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
Sul Ross converted the field goal miss into a touchdown. On a drive that took 11 plays and 86 yards, Bernard found Cordrick Mobley for a 12-yard touchdown strike. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 16-6 with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter.
Following a Cru three-and-out drive, UMHB defense got the ball back for the offense. Bernard completed a pass to Cordrick Mobley and Mobley was met by Baylor Mullins for an eight-yard loss. Crain, the former Belton High School standout, intercepted Bernard on the next play and returned the ball 23 yards to the SRU 28-yard line. UMHB could not convert the turnover into points, as Owen’s 48-yard field goal attempt hit the cross bar.
Bernard had a hand in all 69 yards of the next scoring drive for Sul Ross. He picked up 35 yards rushing and tossed a 34-yard pass completion to Xavier Jefferson. Bernard’s 15-yard run put the Lobos back to within four points at 16-12. Mullins blocked Dustan Greer’s point-after attempt.
UMHB took over the ball on their own 22-yard line for the final drive of the half. Carpenter got much of the ground-and-pound action for the Cru, tallying six rushes for 48 yards on the drive. Anderson hit Runnels for a 17-yard gain and Tevin Smith for 16 and 17-yard gains on back-to-back plays. The Cru had the ball down to the Sul Ross 4-yard line before a fumble forced UMHB to try a 28-yard field goal. The attempt hit the left upright and the Cru took a 16-12 lead into the locker room.
Kinsey and Crain teamed up for a huge momentum changer at the start of the third quarter. On the very first play, Kinsey met Brian Thomas at the Lobos’ 15-yard line and stripped the football. Crain scooped up the ball and scored to give the Cru a 23-12 lead, just seven seconds into the half.
The two teams traded possessions before Durrell Mitchell returned a Chad Peevey punt 58 yards to the Cru 31-yard line. On the next play, Bernard found Jefferson on a 31-yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion failed and Sul Ross trailed 23-18.
UMHB put together a six-play, 62-yard drive consuming just 1:24. Brian Gallagher took over at quarterback for the Cru and marched the offense down the field, finding Runnels and Murphy in the pass routes. A personal foul on Sul Ross’ Brandon Thornton aided the drive, as he was ejected from the game. Carpenter’s 19-yard run made the score 30-18 with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
Kinsey forced another fumble on the first play of Sul Ross’ next drive, as Cordrick Mobley caught a pass and turned right into Kinsey. Eric Allen recovered the fumble on the Sul Ross 34-yard line.
UMHB scored off the turnover, as Owen’s 30-yard field goal made the score 33-18 with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
Sul Ross went into “four-down territory” mode on the next drive. After gaining 12 yards on a pass from Bernard to Jefferson, Crain stopped Bernard on a five yard gain. Following an incompletion, Steward and Teidrick Smith sacked Bernard. Tim Bower, another former Belton Tiger standout, forced a fourth down incompletion and Sul Ross turned the ball over on downs.
Following a UMHB fumble, the Cru shut down another four-down territory drive and UMHB took over the ball to start the fourth quarter.
Allen picked off another Bernard pass deep in UMHB territory to stall out a Lobo offensive drive early in the fourth quarter.
Anderson came back into the game on the next UMHB possession and ran a highlight-reel type, 81-yard run, eluding several Lobos on defense to make the score 40-18 with 11:17 remaining in the game.
Derek Williamson got into the defensive act for the Cru, picking off Bernard to stall out the ensuing drive.
Neither team threatened to score following that drive, giving the Cru a 22-point victory.
Carpenter carried the ball 28 times for the Cru, gaining 140 yards and a touchdown. Anderson had 15 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. Anderson was 11-of-16 for 160 yards, for one touchdown and an interception. Gallagher was 7-of-19 for 41 yards passing for the Cru.
Bernard was 19-of-48 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, combined with 25 carries for 89 yards. Jefferson has five receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown for the Lobos.
Kinsey had 13 tackles and four forced fumbles for the Cru on defense. Crain had nine tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception for UMHB.
The Cru will take on Trinity University Saturday at 6 p.m. at Crusader Stadium.