BELTON – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team scored the game’s first 28 points and controlled the second half in a 35-7 victory over the University of Redlands in the First Round of the NCAA Division III National Championships Saturday in Belton. The Cru advances to the Second Round of the NCAA playoffs for the tenth straight year and improves to 11-0 on the season with the victory. The loss ends the Bulldogs year at 7-3.
UMHB took advantage of a ten-yard Redlands punt to march 55 yards in 12 plays before Elijah Hudson scored on a two-yard run to put the Cru up 7-0 with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Eric Allen intercepted a Bulldog pass on the ensuing drive and returned it 68 yards to the Redlands’ 17-yard line. Hudson scored on another two-yard run six plays later to stretch the lead to 14-0 UMHB and it would stay that way into halftime. Redlands would be driving early in the second half before Deshon Kinsey’s sack dropped the Bulldogs into a fourth and 21 from the Cru 35-yard line. Allen took Kevin Russell’s pooch punt at the UMHB ten and raced 90 yards for the longest punt return in Cru football history to give the Cru a 21-0 edge with 6:14 to go in the third. Zach Anderson added a three-yard scoring run on the next UMHB possession to make it 28-0. Brandon Morris picked off an Anderson pass and returned it 53 yards to set up the Bulldogs only score. Russell found Aaron Atkins with a 29-yard scoring strike to cut the gap to 28-7, but Anderson responded with a 68-yard scoring scamper two plays later to provide the final margin of 35-7.
Redlands finished with 125 rushing yards, but had just 25 of those on 15 second-half carries. The Bulldogs finished with 304 yards of total offense in the game on 67 offensive plays while controlling the ball for 33:05 of clock time. UMHB ran for 304 yards and finished with 373 yards of offense, also coming on 67 plays. Both teams turned the ball over once and combined for just seven penalties in the game.
Anderson ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries for UMHB and he was 7-12 through the air for 69 yards. Hudson added 74 yards and two scores on 17 attempts. Kamray Runnels had a team-high four catches for 32 yards. Allen finished with 158 return yards on his two big plays and added five tackles. Kinsey had a game-high 16 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Russell ran for 66 yards on 17 carries and he was 17-31 through the air for 179 yards and a score. Bobby Brown added 53 rushing yards on 16 totes and Steven Herber caught four passes for 53 yards for the Bulldogs. Michael Tootle had a team-high 11 tackles and Steven Locke, Jr. posted 10 stops and 1.5 sacks for Redlands.
UMHB joins Mount Union as the only two Division III programs to win at least one postseason game in each of the last ten years. The Cru will face Rowan University in the Second Round with the game site to be announced on Sunday. The Profs are 9-2 overall and advanced with a 24-0 victory over Endicott College on Saturday. Rowan won the New Jersey Athletic Conference with 6-1 league mark to qualify for the NCAA postseason. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.