Top-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor won its 29th consecutive game and punched a return trip to the national championship game with another stifling defensive effort as the Cru rolled to a 24-0 victory vs. No. 10 Brockport in the national semifinals.
UMHB (14-0) will face Mount Union (14-0) in Stagg Bowl XLV, the Division III football title game, on Friday, Dec. 15, in Salem, Virginia, as Mount Union defeated UW-Oshkosh 43-40. The teams have met three times previously, all in the national semifinals, with UMHB taking two of three.
The shutout, the Cru's second in four playoff games, means UMHB has allowed just 16 points in the postseason.
Kris Brown's interception of Brockport quarterback Joe Germinerio on the Golden Eagles' second play of the game set up a short field for the Cru. Markeith Miller scored on a 2-yard run three plays later to give UMHB a 7-0 lead just 1:17 into the contest.
After the Cru got a defensive stop of Brockport at the UMHB 28, UMHB put together a 72-yard drive later in the quarter and Byron Proctor dove in from a yard out on a fourth-and-goal play to push UMHB up 14-0. The Golden Eagles fumbled on the next offensive play and Tevin Jones recovered for the Cru at the Brockport 29-yard line. Carl Robinson III found a wide-open T.J. Josey from 29 yards out for the third touchdown of the quarter as UMHB put up two scores in 20 seconds for a 21-0 lead.
|The Cru defense held Brockport exactly 200 yards below its season-long average.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com
Brockport drove to the Cru 4-yard line with just under a minute to go in the first half, but Joe Germinerio's pass was incomplete on fourth-and-one as the UMHB defense forced a turnover on downs to keep it 21-0 going into the half.
The third quarter was more of the same as both offenses struggled to generate yards. Miller finally broke out of the pack with a 66-yard run as the Cru was able to put together a five-play, 70-yard drive. John Mowery connected on a 35-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 24-0 with nine seconds remaining in the period.
The Golden Eagles marched to the UMHB 6-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but the Cru forced three incompletions and D'Andre Jackson picked off Germinerio's pass in the end zone on fourth-and-goal to end another Brockport threat. UMHB held for another fourth-down stop on the final Golden Eagles possession and were able to run out the clock for the program's 36th playoff win 50 in postseason games.
A week after St. Thomas held the Cru to a program-worst minus-16 yards rushing, UMHB bounced back with 212 yards on the ground and 373 yards of total offense for the game. Brockport was held to 71 rushing yards and 267 yards of total offense, 200 below their season-long average, on 83 snaps. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over three times and allowed seven UMHB sacks. The Cru turned the ball over twice and Robinson was sacked four times.
Miller ran for 139 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Robinson was 13-for-20 passing for 161 yards and a score and he ran for 38 yards despite the four sacks. Bryce Wilkerson caught six passes for 77 yards and added a 41-yard punt return for the Cru. Tevin Jones had a game-high 14 tackles and Ajay Fanene added 3.5 sacks to lead the UMHB defense.
Germinerio was 31-for-53 passing for 196 yards and he added 17 rushing yards on 16 carries. He was sacked seven times and intercepted twice in the game. Tyree Brown caught ten passes for 56 yards and Justin Morrison ran for 39 yards on 11 carries to go over 1,000 yards rushing on the season for the Golden Eagles.
Sophomore Alex West was the leader of the Brockport defense, registering 10 tackles including three sacks of Robinson. West also forced a fumble in the second quarter that was recovered by Julius Mizro. Matt Szymanski and Jake O'Connell were the next leading tacklers, registering nine and eight, respectively.