BELTON, Texas (UMHB Athletics) The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor team sputtered in the second-half as the top-ranked Cru had to hold off a late charge from Belhaven University as UMHB held on for a 23-13 victory over the Blazers Saturday night in Belton. UMHB is now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in American Southwest Conference play to start the season. The loss drops Belhaven to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the ASC.
The Cru defense forced a fumble on the game's opening possession and Keith Gipson returned it to the Blazers' 13-yard line. Jo'Vel McDaniel scored on a two-yard run four plays later to give UMHB a 7-0 lead 2:41 into the contest. The Cru marched 67 yards on its next possession and stretched the lead to 14-0 on Luke Poorman's 14-yard touchdown pass to Jonel Reed. Belhaven put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive and Kolbe Blunt scored on a one-yard run to cut the lead to 14-6. Elijah Cross blocked the extra point for UMHB. Brenton Martin returned the ensuing kickoff 53 yards, but the Cru was forced to settle for Anthony Avila's 44-yard field goal to make it 17-6. UMHB added Avila's 27-yard field goal on its next possession for a 20-6 lead. The Cru was driving toward another score, but fumbled the ball away at the Belhaven 20-yard line. The Blazers fumbled the ball back to UMHB a couple of plays later, setting up an 11-play, 73-yard drive that resulted in Avila's 20-yard field goal as time expired to make it 23-6 Cru at halftime.
UMHB took the opening drive of the second half to the Belhaven one-yard line, but was stopped short on fourth down as the Blazers came up with the defensive stand. The Cru again drove into Belhaven territory, but lost a fumble at the Blazers eight-yard line. Belhaven would mount an eight-play, 92-yard drive, capped by Hunter McEachern's 22-yard scoring strike to Tyrus Black to cut it to 23-13 with 13:16 left to play. The defenses took over from there, as the two teams traded punts the rest of the way as the Cru held on for the win.
UMHB finished with 394 yards of total offense with 236 of those coming on the ground. Belhaven threw for 270 yards and finished with 313 yards of total offense on the night. Both teams turned the ball over twice and the Cru was penalized six times for 56 yards. UMHB did hold the ball for 34:21 in the game.
McDaniel finished the night with 137 rushing yards and a score on 21 carries for the Cru to post the first 100-yard rushing day of his career. Poorman ran for 93 yards and threw for 158 and a score. Reed caught eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Mueller and Tevin Jones led the UMHB defense with eight tackles apiece.
McEachern was 16-29 for 270 yards and a touchdown for the Blazers. Louis James caught five passes for 114 yards and Black added four catches for 87 yards. David Lewis had a team-high nine tackles for Belhaven.
UMHB extended its overall winning streak to 17 consecutive wins. The Cru has won 34 straight regular season games and 28 consecutive ASC contests following Saturday's victory.
UMHB will continue its three-game season-opening home stand with a 6 pm kickoff against Howard Payne University next Saturday. The Yellow Jackets are 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the ASC on the season.