December 11, 2013

UMHB QB situation goes from 404 to A-OK

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor | UW-Whitewater

Zach Anderson has started the majority of the season after getting his first varsity start vs. Wesley.
Photo by Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com

By Joe Sager
for D3sports.com

A big question mark became an exclamation point for the Mary Hardin-Baylor football team.

Entering the season, the Cru faced the daunting task of finding a new quarterback after LiDarral Bailey wrapped up his career as the program's most prolific passer, the D3football.com South Region Offensive Player of the Year and a second team All-American.

His quarterback resume is a long one. He had a 34-4 record (with just one regular-season loss) and finished as UMHB's all-time leading passer. He set nearly every program passing record. His impact was felt outside the record books, too.

"LiDarral was a great leader and competitor," Cru coach Pete Fredenburg said. "He was very well-respected and thought of and did a great job leading the offense."

So, how do you replace a guy like that? The Cru (13-0) used a handful of quarterbacks – and not by choice, at first. Jake Sims, Brian Gallagher and Zach Anderson all have seen time under center. However, Anderson, a sophomore, seized the top spot in the team's third game and excelled.

"Zach started the year as the third-team guy and the other two got hurt. He stepped in and did a great job leading the offense and making plays and doing things only really good athletes can do," Fredenburg said. "He has helped us achieve the success we have achieved so far."

Anderson ran with the opportunity – literally. He enters Saturday's NCAA Division III national semifinal against UW-Whitewater (13-0) with a chance of joining the 1,000/2,000 club for rushing and passing yardage on the year. He has rushed for 779 yards and his 1,972 passing yards rank second in Cru single-season history.

"Throughout the year, I have been working on getting more comfortable in the pocket and trusting my line more," Anderson said. "If a running lane is there, I will take it, hopefully, if it is a smart decision. I've been trying to become more of a threat in the pocket over the last few games."

Mary Hardin-Baylor's balanced attack helps ease Anderson's transition. At 49.0 points per game, the Cru has Division-III's second-highest scoring offense. Mount Union (49.6 ppg) is first.

"I came in during the second game of the season. Every game I have been in, I feel we have steadily improved. I don't feel like I have too much of a burden. We have so many guys who can score," Anderson said. "The coaches do a really good job drawing up game plans and, once we are in the game, giving us plays. We try to be methodical. Our running back, Elijah Hudson, can hit a long run at any time. The same goes with any of our receivers. It's definitely fun being in that type of offense."

Anderson feels his game has improved dramatically since he took over under center.

"I attribute a lot to the coaches who have worked with me and had a lot of patience with me in practice and games," he said. "I feel like I have made quite a bit of improvement this year. I am just trying to get better every week with it."

And, he's had some encouraging words from the man he replaced – Bailey.

"Coming into college, I knew of him and the things he had done already. When I got here, he gave me a lot of helpful words," Anderson said. "He texts me once a week or every couple weeks to give me words of wisdom. While he was here, he was a help. Now, hearing his advice really helps me out a lot, too."

The Cru advanced to last year's semifinals and led big at Mount Union before dropping a 48-35 decision as the Purple Raiders scored two TDs in the closing seconds. Anderson, who watched that game on TV, is eager for this challenge.

"Last year, I played in the junior varsity program. I felt the hurt of the loss, but maybe not as much as some of the guys who played in the game. We have been here last year and know what it's like to be at this stage and what it's like to lose," he said. "That's the hardest part. That feeling is not something you can whisk away. The guys have been feeling it all year. I think that'll help us. We're so close. We're just ready to reach to the next stage. You grow up your whole life looking to play deep into December. To have this opportunity is surreal."

Brian Gallagher got a handful of snaps in Saturday's quarterfinal win and sparked a fourth-quarter surge on offense.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com

Anderson won't have to do it all himself, either. Fredenburg said Gallagher will see some snaps as well. The senior has played throughout the year and was inserted into the lineup late in last week's 45-23 triumph over St. John Fisher. The Cardinals intercepted Anderson with 8:42 to play and scored less than a minute later to cut the deficit to 31-23. Gallagher replaced Anderson and earned the save. He engineered two scoring drives in the game's final minutes, the second came after a St. John Fisher fumble.

"Brian is qualified and very experienced. Putting him in against St. John Fisher (late in the game and pinned near the goal line), showed we have confidence and he responded very well. I think he is a really gifted quarterback," Fredenburg said. "He is talented and well-respected and has some leadership qualities. He does some stuff better than Zach and Zach does some stuff better than he does. We will utilize both and see if they can be productive. This defense we're facing is really awesome."

In addition, a third quarterback – Marcus Wimby – could take some snaps as well in the team's wildcat formation.

"We are blessed to have a lot of skilled guys. It kind of opens up the offense and allows us to run as well as pass," Fredenburg said. "Hopefully, it puts some pressure on defenses and creates some issues for them."

Nevertheless, the team is looking forward to playing at Crusader Stadium, which opened this year, once again.

"That's huge for us. We have a great fan base here. Just the comfort factor alone is huge," Anderson said. "I know they have great fans, too, so it's huge for us to be at home. Our motto has been: 'We don't lose at home.' We look to keep that up this Saturday."

Sep. 30: All times Eastern
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Randolph-Macon 24, at Shenandoah 19
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at Washington and Lee 49, Emory and Henry 23
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Oct. 1: All times Eastern
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Massachusetts Maritime 30, at Fitchburg State 0
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Becker 42, at Gallaudet 18
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at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
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RPI 51, at Rochester 13
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Endicott 21, at MIT 9
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Juniata 17
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at William Paterson 18, Montclair State 13
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at Wesleyan 34, Hamilton 6
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at Tufts 12, Bates 7
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Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
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Middlebury 35, at Colby 14
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Amherst 31, at Bowdoin 10
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Frostburg State 25, at Kean 18
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at DePauw 48, Kenyon 35
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Ferrum 30, at Greensboro 0
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Maryville (Tenn.) 52, at Methodist 13
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FDU-Florham 32, at Wilkes 28
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at Castleton 23, Anna Maria 13
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Moravian 33, at Ursinus 32
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Stevenson 48, at Misericordia 0
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at St. Lawrence 42, Springfield 14
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Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
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Alma 56, at Kalamazoo 26
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Franklin and Marshall 20, at Dickinson 10
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Wesley 63, at Southern Virginia 9
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Adrian 28, at Albion 21
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Husson 33, at SUNY-Maritime 12
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Apprentice 24, at Alfred State 8
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at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
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at St. John Fisher 28, Buffalo State 24
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Salve Regina 47, at Curry 14
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at Gettysburg 38, McDaniel 23
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Delaware Valley 48, at Lebanon Valley 0
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at Denison 21, Ohio Wesleyan 14
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at Ithaca 23, Utica 14
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Alfred 49, at Morrisville State 24
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Western New England 56, at Nichols 27
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at Albright 27, King's 7
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Muhlenberg 33, at Susquehanna 30
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at MacMurray 31, Minnesota-Morris 10
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Westminster (Mo.) 35, at Crown 7
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Mount Ida 15, at Norwich 14
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Trinity (Conn.) 38, at Williams 13
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John Carroll 67, at Wilmington 7
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Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
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Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
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Mount St. Joseph 42, at Hanover 6
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Widener 24, at Lycoming 21
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Defiance 59, at Earlham 28
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at Trine 62, Concordia-Chicago 19
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Capital 42, at Otterbein 41
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Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
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at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 10
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at Bridgewater 45, Hampden-Sydney 35
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Waynesburg 14, at Grove City 10
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Cortland 50, at Hartwick 47
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Eureka 27, at Greenville 13
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Northwestern (Minn.) 25, at Iowa Wesleyan 18
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at Lakeland 16, Concordia (Wis.) 7
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at Benedictine 67, Rockford 15
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Aurora 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 13
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Nebraska Wesleyan 27, at Luther 24
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Rhodes 36, at Sewanee 21
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at St. Norbert 35, Lake Forest 21
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Concordia-Moorhead 46, at Gustavus Adolphus 21
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at Carleton 34, Hamline 31
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St. John's 42, at Bethel 27
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UW-Whitewater 30, at UW-Platteville 24
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Buena Vista 34, at Loras 24
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at Hardin-Simmons 53, Sul Ross State 29
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UW-Stevens Point 28, at UW-Eau Claire 19
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at Lawrence 36, Beloit 22
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at Monmouth 57, Cornell 14
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at Coe 37, Wartburg 34
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Dubuque 35, at Central 17
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Wheaton (Ill.) 48, at Illinois Wesleyan 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 66, McMurry 3
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Elmhurst 14, at Augustana 3
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Macalester 16, at Ripon 8
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at Illinois College 50, Grinnell 14
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at Louisiana College 35, Howard Payne 7
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East Texas Baptist 60, at Belhaven 47
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at St. Thomas 55, Augsburg 7
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Washington and Jefferson 62, at Thiel 14
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at Morthland 42, Maranatha Baptist 10
3:00 PM
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Carthage 38, at Carroll 14
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at UW-Oshkosh 45, UW-Stout 17
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Willamette 63, at Puget Sound 24
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at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 45, Whittier 13
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at Pacific Lutheran 27, Pacific 16
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at Linfield 59, Lewis and Clark 7
4th - 15:00
7 Framingham State
20 Mass-Dartmouth
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41 Averett
34 LaGrange
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15:00 4th
22 Whitworth
23 George Fox
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5:05 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-La Crosse
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6 Olivet
0 Hope
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13 Bethany
28 Carnegie Mellon
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14 St. Vincent
24 Case Western Reserve
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0 Christopher Newport
10 Rowan
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6:00 PM
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0 Berry
7 Washington U.
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Occidental at Redlands
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at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Juniata 17
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Final
at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
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Final
Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
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Final
Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
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Final
at St. John Fisher 28, Buffalo State 24
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Final
Stevenson 48, at Misericordia 0
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Final
at St. Lawrence 42, Springfield 14
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Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 41, Huntingdon 31
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Final
Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
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Final
Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
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Final
Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 48, at Illinois Wesleyan 24
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UW-Whitewater 30, at UW-Platteville 24
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Final
St. John's 42, at Bethel 27
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 66, McMurry 3
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at Hardin-Simmons 53, Sul Ross State 29
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East Texas Baptist 60, at Belhaven 47
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Dubuque 35, at Central 17
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at St. Thomas 55, Augsburg 7
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at UW-Oshkosh 45, UW-Stout 17
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at Linfield 59, Lewis and Clark 7
HALF
0 Christopher Newport
10 Rowan
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