December 11, 2013

UMHB QB situation goes from 404 to A-OK

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor | UW-Whitewater

Zach Anderson has started the majority of the season after getting his first varsity start vs. Wesley.
Photo by Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com

By Joe Sager
for D3sports.com

A big question mark became an exclamation point for the Mary Hardin-Baylor football team.

Entering the season, the Cru faced the daunting task of finding a new quarterback after LiDarral Bailey wrapped up his career as the program's most prolific passer, the D3football.com South Region Offensive Player of the Year and a second team All-American.

His quarterback resume is a long one. He had a 34-4 record (with just one regular-season loss) and finished as UMHB's all-time leading passer. He set nearly every program passing record. His impact was felt outside the record books, too.

"LiDarral was a great leader and competitor," Cru coach Pete Fredenburg said. "He was very well-respected and thought of and did a great job leading the offense."

So, how do you replace a guy like that? The Cru (13-0) used a handful of quarterbacks – and not by choice, at first. Jake Sims, Brian Gallagher and Zach Anderson all have seen time under center. However, Anderson, a sophomore, seized the top spot in the team's third game and excelled.

"Zach started the year as the third-team guy and the other two got hurt. He stepped in and did a great job leading the offense and making plays and doing things only really good athletes can do," Fredenburg said. "He has helped us achieve the success we have achieved so far."

Anderson ran with the opportunity – literally. He enters Saturday's NCAA Division III national semifinal against UW-Whitewater (13-0) with a chance of joining the 1,000/2,000 club for rushing and passing yardage on the year. He has rushed for 779 yards and his 1,972 passing yards rank second in Cru single-season history.

"Throughout the year, I have been working on getting more comfortable in the pocket and trusting my line more," Anderson said. "If a running lane is there, I will take it, hopefully, if it is a smart decision. I've been trying to become more of a threat in the pocket over the last few games."

Mary Hardin-Baylor's balanced attack helps ease Anderson's transition. At 49.0 points per game, the Cru has Division-III's second-highest scoring offense. Mount Union (49.6 ppg) is first.

"I came in during the second game of the season. Every game I have been in, I feel we have steadily improved. I don't feel like I have too much of a burden. We have so many guys who can score," Anderson said. "The coaches do a really good job drawing up game plans and, once we are in the game, giving us plays. We try to be methodical. Our running back, Elijah Hudson, can hit a long run at any time. The same goes with any of our receivers. It's definitely fun being in that type of offense."

Anderson feels his game has improved dramatically since he took over under center.

"I attribute a lot to the coaches who have worked with me and had a lot of patience with me in practice and games," he said. "I feel like I have made quite a bit of improvement this year. I am just trying to get better every week with it."

And, he's had some encouraging words from the man he replaced – Bailey.

"Coming into college, I knew of him and the things he had done already. When I got here, he gave me a lot of helpful words," Anderson said. "He texts me once a week or every couple weeks to give me words of wisdom. While he was here, he was a help. Now, hearing his advice really helps me out a lot, too."

The Cru advanced to last year's semifinals and led big at Mount Union before dropping a 48-35 decision as the Purple Raiders scored two TDs in the closing seconds. Anderson, who watched that game on TV, is eager for this challenge.

"Last year, I played in the junior varsity program. I felt the hurt of the loss, but maybe not as much as some of the guys who played in the game. We have been here last year and know what it's like to be at this stage and what it's like to lose," he said. "That's the hardest part. That feeling is not something you can whisk away. The guys have been feeling it all year. I think that'll help us. We're so close. We're just ready to reach to the next stage. You grow up your whole life looking to play deep into December. To have this opportunity is surreal."

Brian Gallagher got a handful of snaps in Saturday's quarterfinal win and sparked a fourth-quarter surge on offense.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com

Anderson won't have to do it all himself, either. Fredenburg said Gallagher will see some snaps as well. The senior has played throughout the year and was inserted into the lineup late in last week's 45-23 triumph over St. John Fisher. The Cardinals intercepted Anderson with 8:42 to play and scored less than a minute later to cut the deficit to 31-23. Gallagher replaced Anderson and earned the save. He engineered two scoring drives in the game's final minutes, the second came after a St. John Fisher fumble.

"Brian is qualified and very experienced. Putting him in against St. John Fisher (late in the game and pinned near the goal line), showed we have confidence and he responded very well. I think he is a really gifted quarterback," Fredenburg said. "He is talented and well-respected and has some leadership qualities. He does some stuff better than Zach and Zach does some stuff better than he does. We will utilize both and see if they can be productive. This defense we're facing is really awesome."

In addition, a third quarterback – Marcus Wimby – could take some snaps as well in the team's wildcat formation.

"We are blessed to have a lot of skilled guys. It kind of opens up the offense and allows us to run as well as pass," Fredenburg said. "Hopefully, it puts some pressure on defenses and creates some issues for them."

Nevertheless, the team is looking forward to playing at Crusader Stadium, which opened this year, once again.

"That's huge for us. We have a great fan base here. Just the comfort factor alone is huge," Anderson said. "I know they have great fans, too, so it's huge for us to be at home. Our motto has been: 'We don't lose at home.' We look to keep that up this Saturday."

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Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
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Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
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at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
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Sep. 29: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Randolph-Macon at Shenandoah
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
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Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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