Belton, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team used a smothering defensive effort and big-play passing game to post a 27-10 victory over Linfield College in the Second Round of the NCAA Division III National Championships Saturday in Belton. UMHB improves to 12-0 on the season with its first postseason victory over Linfield in five tries. The loss ends the Wildcats' season at 9-2 with both of those losses coming against the Cru.
Linfield took a 3-0 lead when Willy Warne connected on a 22-yard field goal on the Wildcats opening possession of the game, but those would be the only points scored by the Linfield offense on the day. Reggie Wilson intercepted a Sam Riddle pass to set up UMHB's first score as Blake Jackson found T.J. Josey all alone behind the Linfield secondary for a 76-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-3 Cru with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter. UMHB's defense forced a turnover on downs and the Cru drove 65 yards with Jackson capping it off with a six-yard scoring run to make it 13-3 UMHB at halftime. Markeith Miller scored on touchdown runs of three and eight yards in the third quarter to stretch the Cru's advantage to 27-3. Linfield would cut into the lead when Kennedy Johnson returned a UMHB punt 75 yards for a touchdown with 10:51 left to play to close the gap to 27-10. The Cru defense took over from there to close out the win.
UMHB held the Wildcats to 375 yards of total offense with just 236 of those coming through the air. The Cru finished with 415 yards of offense, including 256 passing yards. UMHB intercepted a pair of passes and recorded four sacks. The Cru did not commit a turnover and did not allow a sack in the game.
Jackson finished with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown while going 14-19 passing for 256 yards and a score for UMHB. Miller ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and Josey caught four passes for a career-high 180 yards. Keith Reineke and Baylor Mullins topped the Cru with 11 tackles apiece and Brazos Fuller added 10 stops.
Riddle was 26-41 passing for Linfield for 236 yards but was under pressure most of the game. Spencer Payne ran for 55 yards on 13 carries and Reed Peterson caught nine passes for 141 yards. Kyle Chandler had a team-high nine tackles for the Wildcats.
UMHB will now advance to the National Quarterfinals for the ninth time in 19 seasons. The Cru will face Wheaton College (11-1) for a spot in the Semifinals. Wheaton advanced with a 31-14 win over North Central on Saturday. This will be the first meeting between UMHB and Wheaton on the football field. The site for the Quarterfinal Game will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday.