Belton, TX – The start may not have been the one the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team had in mind, but the result was exactly what the Cru was after in a 59-0 victory over Mississippi College Saturday afternoon in Belton. The 2nd-ranked Cru wraps up the outright American Southwest Conference title with the win and UMHB also closes out a third consecutive undefeated regular season. The loss ends the Choctaws season at 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the ASC.
Both teams were sluggish in the first quarter before UMHB finally dented the scoreboard on LiDarral Bailey's five-yard touchdown pass to Chris Wimby with 2:44 left in the period. Bailey would dart 29 yards for another score to give the Cru a 14-0 edge with 6:26 remaining in the second quarter and Elijah Hudson's one-yard plunge made it 21-0 UMHB at halftime. Mississippi College would have a chance to cut the lead midway through the third, but Korey Steward broke through to block a Choctaw field goal try. Javicz Jones scooped up the loose ball and raced 77 yards for another TD, his fourth defensive score of the season. Darius Wilson added a 35-yard touchdown run following another blocked field goal to make it 35-0 UMHB at the end of three quarters. Chad Peevey hit a 39-yard field for UMHB early in the fourth quarter, Stephen Salinas scored on a one-yard run and Dustin Frye added TD runs of 27 and three yards to close out the scoring.
The Cru finished with 607 yards of total offense with 455 of those coming on the ground. UMHB held the Choctaws to just 86 rushing yards and 272 yards of total offense. The Cru also forced two turnovers and blocked a pair of field goals in posting its first shutout of the season.
Wilson ran for 113 yards and a score on just eight carries. Bailey added 84 yards and a score on the ground and went 13-20 through the air for 145 yards and another touchdown. He was picked off for just the second time on the season. Hudson caught four passes for 64 yards as the top receiving target. Jones finished with 12 tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception and the blocked field goal return for a touchdown.
Stacey Dillard was 16-29 passing for 186 yards for MC and Otis Smith ran for 51 yards on 13 carries. Alex Archer caught five passes for 66 yards. Brooks Villarreal had a team-high 11 tackles for the Choctaws and Keith Villafranco added 11 stops, an interception and 2.5 tackles for loss.
The Cru closes out the regular season at 10-0 overall and 7-0 in ASC play. The team has won 34 consecutive regular season games and 26 straight ASC contests. UMHB will now advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the ninth straight season and the 11th time in the last 12 years. The Cru will find out its first round opponent and game site when the 32-team field is released Sunday at 5:00 PM Central Time. UMHB should have also wrapped up a #1 seed and a home game in the postseason with Saturday's win.