Marshall, TX – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team built an early lead and rode a record-setting performance from linebacker Javicz Jones to post a 54-20 victory over East Texas Baptist University Saturday in Marshall. The 2nd-ranked Cru improves to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in American Southwest Conference play with the victory. UMHB also clinches at least a share of the ASC title and locks up the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III National Championships with the win. The loss drops the Tigers to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in ASC play on the season.
The Cru opened the scoring with LiDarral Bailey's six-yard touchdown run on the game's opening possession. Jones stepped in front of a Seth Hubbard pass on ETBU's first drive and returned it 24 yards for a score to give UMHB a 14-0 lead with 10:25 to go in the first quarter. The Cru offense struggled from there, putting up Chad Peevey field goals of 48 and 43 yards to make it 20-0 before putting together an 11-play, 78-yard drive capped by Bailey's 15-yard scoring strike to Geoff Myles with 12 seconds left in the first half to make it 27-0 Cru at the half.
ETBU scored on Khadafi Davis' four-yard run late in the third to end the shutout bid, but Bailey answered with a three-yard scoring run to give UMHB a 33-6 edge entering the fourth quarter. The Tigers would be driving again before Jones provided the dagger. He stepped in front of an ETBU swing pass at the eight-yard line and returned it 92 yards for a TD to put the Cru on top 40-6. Jake Sims would hit Kamray Runnels with a 27-yard TD pass between two ETBU scores before Brian Gallagher closed out the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left to play.
Jones finished with 13 tackles in the game and became the ASC's all-time leading tackler by pushing his career total to 416. Jones entered the game tied with Jared Sanderson of Hardin-Simmons for the conference record. The 92-yard interception return is the longest in Cru football history and Jones is the first player in school history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game.
UMHB rolled up 484 yards in total offense with 262 of those coming on the ground. The Cru held ETBU to just 42 rushing yards in the victory. Bailey was 13-22 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown and he added 43 yards rushing and two more TD's on the ground. Darius Wilson ran for 122 yards on 20 carries and Myles caught six passes for 65 yards.
Hubbard was 28-49 passing for ETBU for 308 yards, but he also threw those two costly picks. Roy Butler caught seven passes for 104 yards and Davis ran for 31 yards on nine carries. Dylan Bethea had a game-high 14 tackles to lead the ETBU defensive effort.
UMHB will now return home to close out the regular season with a 1:00 PM kickoff against Mississippi College next Saturday. A win would give UMHB the outright ASC title and should lock-up a #1 seed in the playoffs. The Choctaws will bring a 2-7 overall record and a 1-5 mark in ASC play into that contest. The Cru will then find out its first-round postseason opponent and game site when the 32-team field for the NCAA Division III National Championships is announced on Sunday, November 11th.
The Cru has now won at least a share of eight straight ASC titles. UMHB will advance to the playoffs for the ninth straight season and the 11th time in the past 12 years.