Belton, TX – Wesley College dominated the first half before the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team stormed back in the second half. The Cru comeback would fall just short in a 27-24 loss to the Wolverines in an NCAA Division III National Quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon in Belton.
Wesley drove 80 yards in 17 plays on the game's opening possession and took a 7-0 lead when Shane McSweeny hit Sean McAndrew with a 15-yard touchdown. The drive chewed 9:01 off the clock. The Cru would cut the gap to 7-3 when Chad Peevey drilled a 43-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the first half. McSweeny threw a four-yard scoring pass to Askia Jahad four minutes later to put the Wolverines up 14-3 and added a 78-yard scoring strike to Steven Koudossou with 2:18 left in the first half to make 21-3 Wesley at halftime.
The Cru offense would come to life in the second half. LiDarral Bailey found Damian Davis for a six-yard TD pass to close the gap to 21-10. McSweeny once again had an answer, lofting a 56-yard touchdown pass to Matt Barile to stretch it to 27-10 after UMHB blocked the extra point try. The Cru went on a five-play, 55-yard drive on the next possession, capped by Michael Johnson's one-yard scoring plunge to pull UMHB to within 27-17. Bailey struck again, this time with a 45-yard pass to Davis to cut it to 27-24 with 5:43 remaining. Wesley attempted to run out the clock, but McSweeny slid one-yard short of a first-down and was stuffed on fourth-and-one to give the ball back to UMHB at the Cru 40 with 2:41 left to play. The Cru drove to the Wesley 41-yard line, but faced a fourth-and-three. Bailey was hit from behind attempting to throw by Wesley's Sosthene Kapepula and the ball fell incomplete, ending the UMHB comeback try.
The Cru outgained the Wolverines 393 to 389 in total offense with 194 of those coming on the ground. The Wolverines had 253 passing yards and did not turn the ball over. Wesley did pick off three UMHB passes in the game.
Bailey finished 14-27 passing for 199 yards and two scores and Davis caught seven passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Darius Wilson ran for 73 yards on 20 carries and Elijah Hudson finished with 60 yards on 10 totes. Javicz Jones led the Cru defense with 16 total tackles.
McSweeny went 15-22 through the air for 253 yards and four touchdowns for Wesley and he added 114 rushing yards on 25 carries. Barile caught five passes for 136 yards and a score. Kapepula and Jeff Morgan posted 14 tackles apiece to lead the Wesley defensive effort.
The loss ends UMHB's season with a 12-1 overall record. The Cru now trails the all-time series with Wesley 4-2 with all six meetings taking place in the postseason. Wesley improves to 12-1 overall and advances to face Mount Union in the national semifinals next weekend.