The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team faced questions all week after a pair of sluggish performances to open the season, but the Cru answered those questions with a solid performance in all three phases of the game as UMHB rolled to a 42-28 victory over 8th-ranked Hardin-Simmons Saturday night in Belton. The Cru has now won nine straight against the Cowboys and 4th-ranked UMHB improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in American Southwest Conference play with the victory. The loss drops Hardin-Simmons to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the ASC on the season.
UMHB forced a turnover on Hardin-Simmons opening possession and promptly marched 39 yards in three plays before Kyle Noack scored on a two-yard run to make it 7-0 Cru just 2:39 into the game. Hardin-Simmons answered with a two-play, 55-yard drive capped by Steven Rockwell's three-yard run to tie the game at seven. The Cowboys would take a 14-7 lead when Rockwell scored on a 14-yard run with 5:28 left in the first quarter. The TD was set up by an HSU interception and gave the Cowboys their first lead over the Cru since the 2004 regular season meeting. UMHB fought back to tie the game on Blake Dempsey's six-yard touchdown run with 9:10 left in the second quarter and the Cru would stretch the lead to 28-14 at halftime on scoring runs from Quincy Daniels and LiDarral Bailey.
HSU would pull to within seven when Justin Feaster hit ZaVious Robbins with a 49-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half. The TD came after Alan Munoz was wide left on a 53-yard field goal attempt for the Cru. UMHB would answer with a nine-play, 70-yard drive and Darius Wilson banged in from six yards out to give the Cru a 35-21 edge. Feaster struck again, this time hitting Thomas Labian with a 24-yard TD pass to pull HSU to within seven again at 35-28. But the Cru would once again answer and Bailey's 16-yard TD run put the game out of reach with 6:09 remaining. Feaster would throw interception on three of the Cowboys final four drives and the Cru let the clock run out with the ball on the HSU two-yard line to end the game.
UMHB rolled up 439 rushing yards against an HSU defense that was allowing an average of just 114.7 yards per game on the ground. The Cru finished with 525 yards of total offense and controlled the ball for 36:36 of the game. UMHB ran 86 offensive plays compared to just 53 for the Cowboys. HSU was held to 67 yards rushing and the Cowboys managed just 334 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times. The Cru also held HSU to 1-9 on third down conversions.
Wilson topped UMHB with a career-high 190 yards on 18 carries. Bailey added 138 yards and a pair of scores on the ground as he went over the century mark for the second straight game against HSU. Daniels finished with 96 yards and a TD on 24 carries. Damian Davis had five catches for 37 yards in his most extensive action of the season. Feaster threw for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was just 15-27 in the game and was picked off three times and fumbled the ball away once. Robbins caught five passes for 119 yards and a TD. Tracy Cooper, Silvio Diaz and Javicz Jones led the Cru with six tackles apiece and Chad Cannon, Bronson Shaw and Rocky Vaclavick all intercepted passes. Cooper Haralson topped HSU with 15 tackles, but many of those came deep in the Cowboys secondary.
The game was played in front of a UMHB football record crowd of 7,704. UMHB has won nine in a row against HSU and the Cru has taken 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two teams after losing the first four meetings. The Cru will now hit the road for an 11:00 AM kickoff at Louisiana College next Saturday in Pineville, Louisiana. The Wildcats are 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the ASC after beating Mississippi College 45-42 on Saturday.