Nov. 22, 2008

Belton, TX - A pair of American Southwest Conference heavyweights traded punches in an NCAA Division III National Championships First Round game before Mary Hardin-Baylor landed the knockout punch on Alan Munoz's 33-yard field goal with five seconds left as the Cru posted a 38-35 victory over Hardin-Simmons University Saturday afternoon in Belton. UMHB, ranked 4th in the nation, improves to 10-1 on the season with the victory. The loss ends the season for Hardin-Simmons, a team ranked 7th in the country, at 9-2 overall.

The two teams were tied 21-21 entering the fourth quarter before the Cru grabbed a 28-21 lead on Josh Saenz's 73-yard touchdown pass to Aerttrail Robinson on the second play of the fourth quarter. Derrick Williams intercepted a Justin Feaster pass on the ensuing Hardin-Simmons possession and Bryson Tucker threw a 27-yard TD pass to Ervin Johnson on the next play to put the Cru on top 35-21 with 12:08 remaining. HSU responded with Feaster's 19-yard touchdown pass to Justice Baker to cut it to 35-28 with 9:45 left. Feaster then threw a six-yard TD pass to Jerrad Grisham with 1:30 remaining to tie the game at 35. Matt Hurst returned an HSU squib kick 25 yards to set the Cru up at the Cowboy 47-yard line with 1:24 to play. Saenz then hit Pi'Dadro Davis with a crucial 25-yard completion on second and 12. A pair of Bryson Tucker runs put the ball at the 16 yard line and Munoz drilled his game-winning field goal with five ticks left on the clock. HSU only managed a five-yard return on the kickoff as time expired.

The Cowboys opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown pass from Feaster to Baker with 5:32 left in the first quarter. Tucker then returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at seven. Tommy Vadell's one-yard TD run made it 14-7 UMHB with 14:25 left in the second quarter. Feaster hit Mychal Carrillo with a 30-yard touchdown pass as Carrillo pulled in a spectacular one-handed diving grab in the end zone to tie the game at 14. Saenz scored on a six-yard run to make it 21-14 UMHB and Feaster added a 15-yard touchdown run of his own to tie the game at 21 heading into halftime.

Tucker finished with 99 rushing yards on 22 carries to go with his kickoff return for a touchdown and his touchdown pass. Saenz was 9-14 passing for 159 yards and a score and he added 38 rushing yards and a touchdown. Feaster was 26-36 passing for 306 yards and four touchdowns and Carrillo caught 10 balls for 74 yards. Josh Stephens led the Cowboy running game with 79 yards on 14 carries. Ben Beckworth and Derrick Williams led the UMHB defense with 13 tackles apiece and Williams also tied the UMHB career interception record with his 12th career pick. Matt Warnasch had a team-high 12 tackles for HSU.

The Cowboys finished with 469 yards of total offense with 163 of those coming on the ground and 306 through the air. UMHB totaled 373 yards of total offense with 187 rushing yards and 186 passing yards. The Cru also forced the game's only turnover on Williams' interception.

UMHB will now host Wesley College in an NCAA Division III National Championships Second Round game next Saturday at 12:00 PM at Tiger Field. The Wolverines advanced with a 20-0 first-round win over Muhlenberg College. The Cru and the Wolverines will be meeting for the fourth straight postseason with Wesley College holding a 2-1 series lead over UMHB.