/playoffs/2016/just-enough-offense-for-umhb

Defense carried the day for the Cru

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor

UMHB celebrates with its first Division III football national championship trophy.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
Matt Cody runs the ball back on the interception which sealed the win for UMHB.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com 

By Adam Turer
D3sports.com

SALEM -- Defense carried Mary Hardin-Baylor to the Stagg Bowl, and defense delivered the Crusaders the first championship in program history.

Matt Cody’s interception with 35 seconds to play preserved a 10-7 victory over UW-Oshkosh. The Titans were driving with a chance to tie or take the lead when Cody picked off Brett Kasper at the UMHB 22-yard-line.

“I was just reading the quarterback’s eyes. Our D-line’s been getting to him pretty fast, so I figured the ball would come out fast,” said Cody. “I was just thinking, ‘Don’t drop it.’ I happened to be in the right place at the right time, that’s kudos to all the coaches for preparing us.”

The Crusaders defense was on its heels early. UW-Oshkosh struck first, going 64 yards in nine plays on its first possession of the game. The Crusaders uncharacteristically missed tackles on the drive. Dylan Hecker took a direct snap, made a defender miss, and plunged in from two yards out for the game’s first score.

The Crusaders, though, are no strangers to playing from behind. They trailed at some point in nine of their 15 victories this season.

Both teams were content to take what the opposing defense was giving them for most of the game. Mary Hardin-Baylor responded with a 20-play drive that kept the Titans offense sidelined for 8:23. But, the Cru came away with just three points, settling for a John Mowery field goal. Patience paid off all night for the Crusaders. They remained content to hit quick screen passes or run quarterback Blake Jackson on designed carries.

“Going into the week, we knew what type of game it was going to be with the way they play defense,” said Jackson, the game’s Most Outstanding Player. “Coaches were harping on it all week--be patient, be patient. I think our guys, including me, did a great job of doing that.”

The Titans were determined not to let the Crusaders beat them with explosive plays. They often had just one lineman, the nose tackle, put his hand down. The other ten defenders stood up and did their best to keep Jackson and the rest of UMHB’s explosive playmakers in front of them.

“Coach [Stephen] Lee, our offensive coordinator, told me I needed to have a big game and put the team on my back, especially on offense,” said Jackson. “Studying film, I realized that they would drop back a lot in coverage. I would see that’s an easy five, ten yards I can pick up with my feet. So, tonight if I didn’t see anything down the field, I just took off. My legs are tired.”

Jackson’s previous career-high for carries was 19. He nearly eclipsed that in the first half. He finished with 28 carries for 119 yards and a score, to go along with 171 yards passing on 27 attempts.

Eventually, the injury-plagued Titans defense was worn down. An 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by Jackson’s 1-yard plunge gave the Cru their first lead of the game with 4:15 to play in the first half. That was the final score of the game. After allowing a touchdown on the first drive, the Cru defense controlled the field.

“Defense wins championships. There’s not a better coach to play for than [defensive coordinator Larry] Harmon. He had us prepared every game all season,” said senior safety Baylor Mullins. “We gave up some big plays [on the first drive], but nobody got flustered. We stayed together as a team. That’s what got us here.”

Jaedon Johnson’s interception late in the second quarter preserved the lead heading into the locker room. Kasper was having his best drive of the game, making some impressive throws before he got greedy and threw into traffic near the goal line. Johnson capitalized and the Cru entered the second half with momentum.

The second half began with Mary Hardin-Baylor maintaining that momentum by stuffing Hecker on a fourth-down run. But, Markeith Miller fumbled the exchange with Jackson on the Cru’s first snap and the Titans offense was back in business. The Cru defense made sure that the error remained harmless, pushing the Titans backward.

“You know the old adage, defense wins championships, I still think that’s true,” said head coach Pete Fredenburg. “We’re very proud of our defense and our defensive coaches.”

It helped that the Crusaders offense put together three drives of at least 11 plays. That kept UW-Oshkosh on the sidelines and led to all 10 UMHB points. The last 11-play drive came late in the fourth quarter and lasted over six minutes. It resulted in a missed 19-yard field goal, but only gave the Titans 2:23 to drive 80 yards.

There were two great defenses on the field tonight. UW-Oshkosh held the Crusaders, who averaged 49.4 points per game, to just 10 points. The Titans defense came up with its biggest play of the game in the third quarter, as Jake Thein forced a Jackson fumble that was recovered by Cameron Brown at the 7-yard-line.

“I hope they continue that tradition of a great defense here. We cover well, the guys up front get after the quarterback. We’re good all over the field,” said Thein. “There’s a lot of great guys under us who I think are going to step up and hopefully get this university back to this stage.”

The differences in the game were Jackson’s legs and Mary Hardin-Baylor’s defense. The defense forced two turnovers and held UW-Oshkosh to just 215 total yards.

“The game plan worked perfect. We just fell short on offense tonight. Give all the credit to Mary Hardin-Baylor’s defense,” said Titans coach Pat Cerroni. “They’re the best team in the nation right now, defensively. There’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Defense carried the day throughout the postseason. Only 56 points were scored in the two semifinal games and Stagg Bowl combined, with no team scoring more than UMHB’s 14 in its semifinal win. It was only fitting that the defense came up with the biggest play to seal the Mary Hardin-Baylor’s first Division III football championship.

“They threw some punches, we threw some punches at them. It was a battle all night long,” said Teidrick Smith, who had one of the Cru’s three sacks. “Their tackle was getting tired, I was getting tired, too. We had to fight through it, no matter what.”

Jackson and the offense did enough to gain the lead, and the defense did enough to protect it. That balance was emblematic of the Cru’s entire season, built on trust and faith in one another.

“We trust the offense, we trust what they do. The offense feels the same way about us,” said Cody. “Whoever’s on the field is the best 11 on the field. It’s just trusting each other and protecting the family and I think that’s what each side did tonight.”



Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
Video Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 21: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Westfield State at Framingham State
Video Live stats
12:00 PM
Moravian at Juniata
Video Live stats
12:00 PM
Endicott at Salve Regina
Video Preview Preview Live stats Audio
12:00 PM
St. Vincent at Thomas More
Video Live stats Audio
12:00 PM
Hobart at Union
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Colby at Hamilton
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
William Paterson at Christopher Newport
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Ithaca
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Kenyon at Allegheny
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Mount Ida
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Middlebury at Bates
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
Catholic at Springfield
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Wesleyan at Amherst
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Bowdoin at Trinity (Conn.)
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Husson at Gallaudet
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Wabash at Oberlin
Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Buffalo State at Utica
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Muskingum
Video Preview Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Montclair State at Frostburg State
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Rowan at Wesley
Video Preview Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Albright at Stevenson
Video Preview Live stats Audio Tickets
1:00 PM
Wittenberg at DePauw
Video Preview Preview Preview Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Alma at Albion
Video Preview Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Shenandoah at Guilford
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Massachusetts Maritime
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
Wooster at Hiram
Video Preview Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Hampden-Sydney
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Anna Maria
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
Bridgewater at Emory and Henry
Video Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Wilkes at FDU-Florham
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Misericordia
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Rochester at St. Lawrence
Video Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
RPI at Alfred
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Nichols at Curry
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Salisbury
Video Preview Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Ferrum at Brevard
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Apprentice
Audio
1:00 PM
Ursinus at Susquehanna
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Cortland at Morrisville State
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Hope at Trine
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at UW-River Falls
Video
1:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Sewanee
Video Preview Live stats
1:00 PM
Wartburg at Luther
Video Live stats
1:30 PM
Dickinson at Franklin and Marshall
Video Video Live stats
1:30 PM
Tufts at Williams
Video Live stats
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Wilmington
Video Preview Preview Live stats Audio
1:30 PM
MIT at Coast Guard
Video Live stats Audio
1:30 PM
Maine Maritime at Norwich
Video Preview Live stats
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at Marietta
Video Preview Live stats Audio
1:30 PM
Franklin at Rose-Hulman
Video Preview Preview Live stats
1:30 PM
John Carroll at Capital
Video Live stats Audio
1:30 PM
Bluffton at Manchester
Video Live stats
1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Anderson
2:00 PM
Kean at TCNJ
Live stats
2:00 PM
Greensboro at LaGrange
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Worcester State
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Muhlenberg at McDaniel
Video Preview Live stats
2:00 PM
Western New England at Becker
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Methodist at Maryville (Tenn.)
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Adrian at Kalamazoo
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Denison at Ohio Wesleyan
Video Preview Live stats
2:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live stats Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Berry at Millsaps
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Olivet at Benedictine
Video Preview Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Birmingham-Southern at Austin
Video Preview Live stats
2:00 PM
Belhaven at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at UW-Stout
Audio
2:00 PM
Eureka at MacMurray
Video Preview
2:00 PM
Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Nebraska Wesleyan at Buena Vista
Video Preview Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Wisconsin Lutheran
Video Preview Live stats
2:00 PM
Rockford at Aurora
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Concordia-Chicago
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at St. Olaf
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at St. John's
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Augsburg at Concordia-Moorhead
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
St. Thomas at Hamline
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at Greenville
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Coe at Loras
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Monmouth at Cornell
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Wheaton (Ill.) at North Park
Live stats
2:00 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at Martin Luther
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Texas Lutheran
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Grinnell at Lake Forest
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Carroll at Millikin
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Ripon at Macalester
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Lawrence at St. Norbert
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Crown
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Minnesota-Morris at Iowa Wesleyan
2:10 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Eau Claire
Video Preview Live stats Audio
2:30 PM
Merchant Marine at WPI
Video Live stats
2:30 PM
Rhodes at Centre
Video Preview Live stats
2:30 PM
Hanover at Earlham
Video Preview Preview Live stats Audio
2:30 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Video Preview Live stats
3:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse
Video Preview Live stats Audio Audio
3:00 PM
Simpson at Dubuque
Video Live stats Audio
3:00 PM
Augustana at North Central (Ill.)
Video Live stats Audio
3:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Louisiana College
Live stats
4:00 PM
Hartwick at Brockport
Video Live stats
4:00 PM
Western Connecticut at Bridgewater State
Video Live stats
4:00 PM
Chapman at La Verne
Video Preview Preview Live stats
4:00 PM
Pacific at Lewis and Clark
Video Live stats Audio Audio Tickets
4:00 PM
Pacific Lutheran at Willamette
Video Preview Live stats
4:00 PM
Puget Sound at Whitworth
Video Preview Live stats Audio
4:00 PM
Redlands at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Preview Audio Video
4:30 PM
George Fox at Linfield
Video Preview Live stats Audio
5:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Howard Payne
Video Live stats
6:00 PM
Dean at Castleton
Video Preview Live stats Tickets
6:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Averett
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Baldwin Wallace at Otterbein
Video Preview Live stats Audio
7:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Geneva
Video Preview Live stats
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Thiel
Video Preview Live stats
7:00 PM
Knox at Illinois College
Video Live stats
10:00 PM
Whittier at Cal Lutheran
Video Live stats
Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
Video Recap Box Score Video
Oct. 21: All times Eastern
1:00 PM
Rowan at Wesley
Video Preview Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Montclair State at Frostburg State
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Wittenberg at DePauw
Video Preview Preview Preview Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Catholic at Springfield
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Wartburg at Luther
Video Live stats
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Wilmington
Video Preview Preview Live stats Audio
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at Marietta
Video Preview Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live stats Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Texas Lutheran
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Belhaven at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
St. Thomas at Hamline
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at St. John's
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan
Video Live stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Augsburg at Concordia-Moorhead
Video Live stats Audio
2:00 PM
Berry at Millsaps
Video Live stats Audio
2:10 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Eau Claire
Video Preview Live stats Audio
3:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse
Video Preview Live stats Audio Audio
3:00 PM
Augustana at North Central (Ill.)
Video Live stats Audio
4:00 PM
Hartwick at Brockport
Video Live stats
4:30 PM
George Fox at Linfield
Video Preview Live stats Audio
7:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Geneva
Video Preview Live stats