Time of Poss.
BELTON, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team only led once, but that lead came when it mattered most as the top-ranked Cru held off Hardin-Simmons University 15-14 on Anthony Avila's 43-yard field goal as time expired Saturday in Belton. Avila's game-winner moved UMHB to 7-0 overall and 6-0 in American Southwest Conference play. The Cowboy, ranked 15th in the country, drop to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the ASC with the heartbreaking loss.
The defenses dominated in a scoreless first quarter. UMHB forced a punt on the opening series, but the ball skipped off a Cru blocker and set up the Cowboys at the UMHB 24-yard line. The Cru defense held and stopped two Hardin-Simmons drives inside UMHB territory in the opening period. Meanwhile, the Cru offense ran just six plays and did not manage a first down in the first 15 minutes. The Cowboys took a 7-0 lead on Jaquan Hemphill's 6-yard run with 14:23 left in the second quarter. It would stay that way until UMHB put together a seven-play, 62-yard drive and Jase Hammack hit Jonel Reed with a 32-yard touchdown strike to put the Cru on the board. UMHB missed the extra point after a penalty backed up the Cru and Avila also missed a 45-yard field on the final play of the first half to leave it 7-6 Hardin-Simmons at the half.
The Cowboys stretched the lead to 14-6 when Gatlin Martin scored on a two-yard run on a fake field goal with 3:48 left in the third quarter. The Cru answered with Hammack's 30-yard touchdown pass to Gary Ruckman with 11:26 left in the game. The two teams traded punts before Hardin-Simmons took over on its own seven-yard line with 7:28 remaining. The Cowboys only moved the ball to their own 29-yard line, but ran more than five minutes off the clock before a short punt set up UMHB at the HSU 47-yard line with 1:17 left to play. Hammack completed all four of his passes to move the ball to the Cowboys' 26-yard line and Avila drilled a 43-yarder at the final gun to set off a wild celebration as the Cru escaped with the win.
UMHB finished with 211 yards of total offense on just 48 plays. Hardin-Simmons had 234 yards of total offense on 65 plays and held the ball for 35:56 of the game. UMHB's fumble on the punt was the game's only turnover.
Hammack was 10-17 passing for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Reed caught five passes for 67 yards and a score and McDaniel ran for 93 yards on 28 carries. Tevin Jones set a new Cru single-game record with 20 tackles and Akeem Jackson (15 tackles) and Joey Longoria (10 tackles) also reached double figures for UMHB.
Hemphill ran for 148 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries for Hardin-Simmons and he also caught two passes for 12 yards. Jones was 6-7 passing for just 53 yards as the Cowboys focused on the run game and keeping the ball away from the Cru offense. Terrell Franklin had a team-high nine tackles to lead the HSU defense.
UMHB kept is winning streak alive at 22 straight games and the Cru remained undefeated in regular season games at Crusader Stadium. UMHB has now won 39 consecutive regular season games and 33 straight ASC contests following Saturday's victory.
The Cru will return to action with a road trip to Louisiana College next Saturday. UMHB will face the Wildcats (2-5, 2-4 ASC) in a noon kickoff at Wildcat Stadium on the LC campus in Pineville, Louisiana.