BELTON, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team started slowly but turned it on over the final three quarters as the Cru rolled to an 80-7 victory over Louisiana College Saturday in Belton. UMHB clinches at least a share of the American Southwest Conference Championship with the win and also locks up the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championships.
Keith Gipson's interception set up a short field and Markeith Miller scored on a nine-yard run three plays later to give the Cru a 7-0 lead with 3:52 remaining in the first quarter. Jase Hammack hit Aaron Sims with a nine-yard touchdown pass to stretch it to 14-0 early in the second and added a 69-yard scoring strike to Jonel Reed on the next UMHB offensive play to take it out to 21-0. Sims returned an LC punt 74 yards for a score, Marquis Duncan scored on a 16-yard run and Miller tacked on a one-yard scoring plunge to give the Cru a 42-0 halftime lead.
Hammack hit Miller with a 14-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half and Luke Poorman hit Reed with a four-yard TD toss to push the lead the 56-0. Jalen Martin returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and Jon Hughes followed with a 44-yard interception return on the next LC possession. Anthony Avila's 43-yard field goal made it 73-0 after three quarters. Jaishun Doucet's four-yard touchdown run put the Wildcats on the board with 6:33 left to play and DeNerian Thomas raced 31 yards down the sidelines to give UMHB its final touchdown as the Cru hit 80 points for the second consecutive week.
UMHB finished with 367 yards of total offense after playing on a short field most of the day. The Cru held LC to 30 yards rushing and 156 yards of total offense. UMHB intercepted four passes and finished with seven take-aways in the game. The Cru also set a new ASC record for single-season punt returns for touchdowns with Sims' return accounting for the sixth of the year for the team.
Hammack finished 10-16 passing for 153 yards and three touchdowns. K.J. Miller caught five passes for 47 yards and Reed had two grabs for 73 yards and two scores. Markeith Miller finished with 72 rushing yards and had three total touchdowns in the game. Sims' punt return was his third return for a touchdown this season. Trey Villarreal and Jefferson Fritz led UMHB with six tackles apiece. Martin intercepted two passes and broke up two more.
Mason Jordan finished 10-26 passing for 74 yards and was intercepted four times. Zion Williams caught three passes for 55 yards. Orel Ledet, Jr. had a team-best eight tackles for the Wildcats.
UMHB improves to 9-0 overall and 8-0 in ASC play with the victory. The loss drops the Wildcats to 4-5 overall and 4-4 in the ASC on the year. The Cru will close out the regular season with a 2 pm kickoff at East Texas Baptist next Saturday in Marshall. UMHB will be looking for the ninth undefeated regular season in program history and can likely lock up a #1 seed in the NCAA playoffs with a win over the Tigers