Special to the Journal
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football overcame a sluggish first half to pull away in the second as the Cru posted a 41-22 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse Saturday night. UMHB, ranked 2nd in the country, improves to 3-0 on the season with the win. The loss drops the Eagles to 1-2 on the year.
The game was scoreless deep into the first quarter before Jacob O’Neill hit a 40-yard field goal to give the Cru a 3-0 lead with 3:03 remaining in the period. Malcolm Miller’s four-yard scoring run capped a 10-play, 88-yard drive to put UMHB up 10-0 with 11:43 left in the second quarter. Joshua Fischer hit a 30-yard field goal with 6:28 left in the first half to cut the gap to 10-3. That also snapped the Cru defense’s 135-minute scoreless stretch. UMHB used the hurry-up offense to drive 49 yards in the final minutes and Blake Jackson hit Eric Nelson with an 18-yard scoring pass in the back on the end zone to give the Cru a 17-3 lead at halftime.
The two teams waited out a 45-minute weather delay before retaking the field for the second half. The Cru drove for O’Neill’s 21-yard field goal on the opening possession of the second half to push it to 20-3. Duane Thompson broke a 50-yard scoring run with 4:17 left in the third quarter to give UMHB a 27-3 lead and the Cru seemed to have the game under control. But UWL intercepted a Cru pass in their own end zone and then marched 80 yards before John Tackett hit Tony Bilderback for a 16-yard scoring strike to cut it to 27-9 on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Eagles then drove 88 yards before Tackett found Tony Favre in the front corner of the end zone for a 20-yard TD to close the gap to 27-16 with 6:40 left to play. UMHB recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt and Miller scored from 19 yards out to push it to 34-16. Dustin Frye added a 33-yard scoring scamper on the next drive to give the Cru a 41-16 edge. UWL closed out the scoring with Austin Mancosky’s one-yard run with 17 seconds left.
Frye ran for a career-high 104 yards on 15 carries and Thompson added 56 yards on three totes. Zach Anderson was 14-19 through the air for 143 yards and Kamray Runnels caught seven passes for 78 yards. Kris Brown had a team-high eight tackles for the Cru.
Tackett threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles and Bilderback caught four passes for 94 yards. Shane Rockweiler had 16 tackles to lead the UWL defense.
UMHB rolled up 514 yards of total offense with 322 of those coming on the ground. The Eagles finished with 337 yards of total offense with most of that coming in the second half.
The Cru has now won 47 consecutive regular season games and will put a 37-game regular season home winning streak on the line next weekend. UMHB will host Kean University (0-2) for a 6:00 PM Saturday night game at Crusader Stadium.