Mary Hardin-Baylor turned the ball over on the game's first offensive play, but almost everything else went right for the Cru from there as UMHB rolled to a 69-7 victory over Thomas More College in an NCAA Division III National Championship Second Round game Saturday in Belton. The Cru improves to 12-0 for the first time in the 13-year history of the UMHB football program with the victory. UMHB also moves into the National Quarterfinals for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. The loss ends Thomas More's season at 11-1. The Saints were in the playoffs for the third straight season and advanced to the Second Round for the second straight year.
The Cru fumbled the ball away to Thomas More on the UMHB seven-yard line on the game's first offensive play. But the Cru defense backed the Saints up to the 10-yard line and then Ryan Metcalf broke through to block the Thomas More field goal attempt. It would be all UMHB from there. LiDarral Bailey scored on a three-yard run to cap the ensuing drive and give the Cru a 7-0 lead. Quincy Daniels then added a 13-yard scoring run to give UMHB a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bailey hit Damian Davis with a 30-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 21-0 with 11:49 left in the second quarter. Cru defensive end Micah Spicer would slip into the flat to intercept a Thomas More screen pass and he rambled 60 yards for another UMHB touchdown to make it 28-0. Alan Munoz hit a 45-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 31-0 and Bailey's desperation heave was hauled in by Davis for a 59-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half to make it 38-0 UMHB at halftime.
Munoz hit a 20-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to make it a 41-0 game before TMC quarterback Robert Kues hit Mercier Doucette with a 51-yard scoring strike to put the Saints on the board. That is as close as it would get. D.J. Monroe scored on an 18-yard run, Geoff Myles returned a punt 50 yards for a score and third-string quarterback Leo Gutierrez ran for touchdowns of six and 69 yards to provide the final margin.
Daniels led the Cru with 164 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Bailey was 7-11 passing for a career-high 192 yards and two scores and Davis caught three passes for 121 yards and two scores. None of those players would play in the second half. Stephen Salinas, Monroe and Gutierrez all topped 100 rushing yards as the Cru posted four 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time in school history. Javicz Jones and Jarred Favorite led the UMHB defense with eight tackles apiece.
Kues was 13-29 passing for 150 yards and a touchdown for the Saints. Kendall Owens ran for 42 yards on eight carries and caught six passes for 42 yards. Owens also returned eight kickoffs for 119 yards and finished with 203 total yards. Aaron Monk posted a team-high 14 tackles for Thomas More and Zach Autenreib added 10 stops.
UMHB rolled up 522 rushing yards and 769 yards of total offense. The 769 yards represent a new school record for the Cru, besting the old mark of 721 set against Howard Payne in 2004. Myles also tied a school single-season record with his second punt return for a touchdown. He also has a kickoff return for a score and is the only player in school history with three kick returns for touchdowns in a season. UMHB did turn the ball over twice and the Cru was penalized 14 times for 126 yards. UMHB also had five sacks.
Thomas More finished with 259 yards of total offense, but the Saints were held to 75 rushing yards one week after rolling up 432 yards on the ground. Thomas More actually had more time of possession, holding the ball for 33:08.
UMHB will now advance to the NCAA Division III National Quarterfinals next weekend to take on Wesley (DE) College in an 11:00 AM Central Time kickoff. The Wolverines are 11-0 on the season and are the #1 seed in the postseason. The two teams will be meeting for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Cru and Wolverines have split the previous four meetings.