By Tony Adams
The first quarter for UMHB was similar to fall Texas weather: If you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change.
On the game clock, it only took 4:35 to turn around a 10-0 UMHB deficit into a 21-10 lead and got the Cru rolling to a 45-34 victory overall Louisiana College at Crusader Stadium last Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats took the early advantage with a 35-yard field goal from Adan Olivares and a 69-yard pass from Easton Melancon to Ryan Montague. With 5:17 to go, UMHB was down 10-0.
The Cru got on the board with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter, as Zach Anderson found Marcus Wimby in stride for a 66-yard TD strike, putting UMHB back to within three points at 10-7.
The touchdown shook the cobwebs out of the Cru defense and approached the next LC possession with aggression, as Eric Allen and Jordin Harrison stuffed Reggie Sims on the first play from scrimmage and Seels sacked Melancon for an 8-yard loss. Brodrick Crain and Baylor Mullins stuffed a pass play to force a Wildcats punt. Tim Willett’s 11-yard punt into a stiff Belton wind gave the Cru the ball on the LC 42.
It didn’t take long for Anderson to find pay turf for the Cru. He hit Eric Nelson with a 31-yard pass to Eric Nelson set up his own 9-yard TD run. With 1:45 remaining in the quarter, UMHB led 14-10.
The Wildcats had a third and eight situation at the start of the second quarter. Melancon dropped back to pass and Cody Jones read the play perfectly, as he stepped in front of the pass, intercepted it and ran it back for a 46-yard TD.
The teams traded punts a sKamray Runnels, 23-yard punt return gave the Cru a short field on the LC 49. Following the return, Anderson masterfully guided UMHB down the field in seven plays. The drive was capped off by Elijah Hudson’s 4-yard TD run to give the Cru a 28-10 lead with 7:12 to go in the half.
Following an LC three-and-out, the Cru got the ball back on their own 27. On third down and one, Anderson was sacked and stripped of the ball by Landon Henry. The Wildcats took advantage on their first play after the fumble recovery, as Melancon found Montague for a 34-yard TD pass to pull LC back to within 11 points with 4:27 left in the half.
Neither team scored again in the second quarter, giving the Cru a 28-17 halftime lead.
With the Wildcats’ defense shutting down the first drive of the second half of the Cru, LC got the ball back and drove it to the UMHB 27. Olivares’ 44-yard FG made the score 28-20 with 11:42 remaining in the third quarter.
UMHB’s offense got on track on the ensuing drive, with Anderson finding Runnels on the 30-yard pass to start the drive. The drive was snuffed out and Chad Peevey was forced to punt. Peevey blasted a 35-yard punt into the wind, but was roughed by Charles Hawkins on the play. The personal foul gave the Cru the ball back and UMHB scored four plays later on Hudson’s second TD of the day, this time for 10 yards out to stretch the lead to 15 at 35-20.
The Wildcats answered the score with a 65-yard, four play drive. Melancon found Kyle Galyon for a 23-yard TD pass. LC trailed by eight points with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter, 35-27.
Anderson hit Runnels with a 33-yard pass to start the next Cru drive. UMHB drove the ball down to the LC 5, but Anderson was sacked to force a Drew Owen 38-yard field goal to take a 38-27 to round out the quarter.
After the teams traded punts, LC worked their way down the field again. On the UMHB 15, Baylor Mullins put the clamps on any touchdown thoughts snuffing out a throwback pass for a 10-yard loss. Olivares’ 42-yard FG try fell short to end the scoring threat.
Taking over the ball at their own 25, UMHB went back to work for another score. The drive featured significant ground gains from Hudson and Anderson, and passes from Anderson to Hunter Schmidt and Wykeyhe Walker. Anderson found Eric Nelson for a 32-yard TD to round out UMHB’s scoring at 45-27.
LC was not finished, as the Wildcats pieced together a 13 play, 73-yard drive. Melancon found Jake Dunbar for a 32-yard TD. The Wildcats trailed 45-34 with a 5:57 remaining.
UMHB shut down two more Wildcats attempts to come away with the win.
The Cru is now 6-0 on the season and 2-0 in American Southwest Conference play, winning their 28th consecutive ASC victory and 40th consecutive regular season victory. UMHB Louisiana College drops to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in ASC play.
UMHB travels to Abilene to take on Hardin-Simmons (3-3 overall, 2-1 in ASC) Saturday afternoon. The game will be broadcast locally on KLTD-FM 101.7, starting at 12:30 p.m. with Jon Wallin and George Haffner. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.