BELTON, Texas (KWTX) The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead and made it stand up in the second half as the Cru posted a 43-14 victory over the University of Redlands in the First Round of the 2019 NCAA Division III National Championships Saturday in Belton. UMHB improves to 11-0 with the victory and improves to 6-0 all-time against the Bulldogs. Redlands finishes its season at 9-2 as the program lost an opening round game to the Cru for the fourth time.
UMHB stopped a fake punt on the first Bulldogs possession to take over at the Redlands’ 44-yard line. Jase Hammack hit Jonel Reed with a two-yard touchdown pass eight plays later to give the Cru a 7-0 lead. A Redlands fumble set up another short field for UMHB and Hammack hit Gary Ruckman with a 13-yard scoring strike and 14-0 Cru lead with 2:38 left in the opening quarter. Hammack would cap another 44-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown toss to Jaylan Jenkins as UMHB built a 21-0 lead. The Bulldogs put together their best drive of the first half, but time ran out with Redlands at the UMHB 16-yard line to end the half.
Eric Kump lead an 11-play, 90-yard drive to open the second half and scored on a one-yard run to pull Redlands to within 21-7. A bad snap sailed over the head of Bulldogs punter Alex Raya and out of the end zone for a UMHB safety and Keith Gipson returned the ensuing free-kick 64 yards for a touchdown to stretch the lead to 30-7. Anthony Avila added a pair of field goals and Gipson added a 26-yard interception return for a score to make it 43-7. Kump would find Kai Kang for a 62-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 43-14 with 4:47 remaining, but that’s as close as the Bulldogs would get. UMHB drove to the Redlands one-yard line on the game’s final possession, but let the final 35 seconds run out.
The Cru was held to 236 yards of total offense and only managed 65 yards rushing in the game. The UMHB defense forced four turnovers and recorded five sacks against a team that had only given up nine turnovers and 11 sacks in the first ten games of the season. The Bulldogs finished with 250 total yards, with just 53 of those coming on the ground.
Hammack finished 14-25 passing for 177 yards and three touchdowns for the Cru. Reed caught five passes for 58 yards and a score and Jenkins added three grabs for 55 yards and a TD. Marquis Duncan led the rushing attack with 33 yards on seven carries. Gipson intercepted two passes and broke up three more and Tevin Jones had a game-high 13 tackles for the UMHB defense. Avila also broke the UMHB and American Southwest Conference single-season record with his 18th and 19th field goals of the year.
Kump was 9-19 passing for 175 yards and a score in relief of Redlands starter Nathan Martinez. Kang caught three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Kai Thompson ran for 81 yards on 20 carries and Matthew Betancourt had a team-best 10 tackles on the day. Elias Hackney added 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
UMHB will now advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Division III National Championships for the 16th consecutive year. The Cru will face Huntingdon College (8-3) next Saturday in a rematch of a 2015 Second Round matchup. The Hawks advanced with a 27-24 victory over Berry College in the opening round. The site for that game will be officially announced on Sunday.