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. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos