BELTON, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team intercepted four passes and held a high-powered Hardin-Simmons offense to just six points as the Cru topped the Cowboys 27-6 in an NCAA Division III National Championships First Round Game Saturday in Belton. UMHB has now won all five postseason meetings with its conference rivals and advances to the Second Round of the playoffs for the 15th consecutive year.
The Cru took the opening possession of the game and marched 65 yards in nine plays as Markeith Miller capped it off with a four-yard touchdown run to give UMHB a 7-0 lead just 4:38 into the game. De Jackson intercepted a pass on the Cowboys first offensive play, but Hardin-Simmons partially blocked Anthony Avila's ensuing field goal attempt to keep it a 7-0 game. The Cowboys put together a long drive to the UMHB eight-yard line, but Reggie Cole stepped in front of a Ty Hooper pass and returned it 88 yards for a score to give the Cru a 14-0 edge with 1:07 remaining in the opening period. HSU responded with another long drive and Bryson Hammonds scored on a 21-yard scamper to cut the gap to 21-6 with 10:58 left in the first half. UMHB blocked the extra point after the first second quarter points allowed by the Cru this season. The Cowboys would mount another drive but turned the ball over on downs at the UMHB 28-yard line. Three plays later, Jase Hammack hit Aaron Sims with a 58-yard touchdown strike to make it 21-6 Cru at the half. The defenses dominated the second half with the only points coming on Avila field goals of 37 and 32 yards. UMHB intercepted two more passes and forced four Cowboy punts in the second half.
The Cru was held to 237 yards of total offense in the game and only ran 47 offensive plays. UMHB ran for 112 yards and turned the ball over once. Hardin-Simmons ran for 168 yards as a team and finished with 315 total yards but could not overcome the four turnovers.
Miller ran for 110 yards and a touchdown for UMHB. He became just the second player in Cru history to go over 4,000 yards in career rushing and broke the American Southwest Conference record with his 58th career rushing score. Hammack was 10-14 passing for 125 yards and a TD and T.J. Josey caught five passes for 49 yards. Santos Villarreal, Raylon Hickey and Jalen Martin all had nine tackles apiece and Jackson intercepted two passes for UMHB.
Hammonds ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries for the Cowboys. Hooper was 12-29 passing for 134 yards and threw all four interceptions. Reese Childress caught seven passes for 50 yards and added 29 yards on the ground. Chris Miller had nine tackles and an interception to lead the HSU defensive effort/
The Cru improves to 11-0 with the victory and moves on to face Berry College (10-1) in the Second Round. The site for that game will be announced on Sunday afternoon. The Vikings advanced with a 31-0 win over Maryville on Saturday and are champions of the Southern Athletic Association. Saturday's loss ends Hardin-Simmons' season at 9-2 and the Cowboys fell in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.