Courtesy of Mary Hardin-Baylor Athletics

Pella, IA - The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team broke up a two-point conversion attempt and then recovered an onside kick attempt as the Cru held off a furious Central College comeback to post a 42-40 victory over the Dutch in an NCAA Division III National Championships First Round game Saturday in Pella, Iowa. UMHB improves to 10-1 on the season and advances to the Second Round of the NCAA postseason for the sixth straight season. The loss ends Central's season at 10-1 overall.

The Cru led 28-14 at halftime and stretched the lead to 35-14 on Quincy Daniels' two-yard touchdown run with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter. Nate Sneed would throw a 25-yard TD pass to Jerrad Lackey with 1:32 left in the third to cut the Cru lead to 35-21. Sneed then hooked up with Jordan Leuschen for a 42-yard touchdown pass just 2:49 later. UMHB's Brenson Bristow would break through to block the extra point and the Cru held a 35-27 advantage at that point. UMHB answered with a six-play, 71-yard drive capped by LiDarral Bailey's 21-yard scoring toss to Brian Scott to stretch the Cru lead to 42-27. Sneed scored on a one-yard run to pull the Dutch to within 42-34 with 6:39 to play. The UMHB defense held on downs on the next possession when Marco Coppola batted away a fourth-down pass attempt to seemingly put the game away, but Bailey fumbled the ball away two plays later. Central's Ryan Schmidt recovered at the Dutch 31-yard line with 2:28 remaining. Sneed completed a 28-yard pass to Alex Dittmer on fourth down to keep the drive alive and later added a 10-yard run on fourth and seven to keep the Dutch in the game. Sneed found Leuschen with a five-yard TD pass with 28 seconds left to cut it to 42-40. On the two-point conversion attempt, Sneed rolled to his right and had a man open, but UMHB's Brett Parker batted the ball away, right back into the arms of Sneed. Sneed scrambled back to the left but was swarmed under to preserve the UMHB lead. Central recovered the ensuing onside kick try, but the Dutch was offside on the play. Pi'Dadro Davis then hauled in the next onside kick attempt for the Cru and UMHB ran out the kick to ice the win.

UMHB built a 28-14 halftime lead. Davis blocked a Central punt and returned it 20 yards for the opening TD with 11:30 remaining in the first quarter. A big kickoff return gave the Dutch good field position on the next possession and Sneed hit Lackey with a 16-yard TD toss tying the game at seven. The Cru used a 36-yard TD run from Marcus Carruth and Bailey's one-yard scoring plunge to push the lead to 21-7 before Zack Bandow threw a 28-yard scoring strike to Brett Wilkin to cut the lead to 21-14. Kyle Noack threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Ervin Johnson to close out the first half scoring with 3:08 left in the half.

"What an incredible game! We are proud to win the game against a fine program like Central and we are humbled to have a chance to move on after a game like this," Cru head coach Pete Fredenburg said. "They are a class program and are well-coached and played hard. We will learn a lot from this game and from being able to beat a program of this caliber."

The Cru rolled up 327 rushing yards in the victory and finished with 452 yards of total offense. Central managed just 103 rushing yards, but threw for 306 yards to finish with 409 yards of total offense. UMHB turned the ball over three times while forcing just one turnover.

Daniels ran for a game-high 113 yards and added a touchdown on 15 carries. Bailey ran for 95 yards and a touchdown and threw for 43 yards and another score. Carruth and Bryson Tucker also went over 50 yards rushing for the Cru in game. Noack and Bailey combined to complete their first eight passes of the game and finished 11-16 through the air for 125 total yards and two touchdowns. Johnson caught four passes for 33 yards and a score for the Cru. Sneed was the offensive star for the Dutch, completing 16-38 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns and adding 91 rushing yards and score on 19 carries. Leuschen caught four passes for 63 yards and a pair of TD's. Jerrad Jefferson and Javicz Jones had 10 tackles apiece to lead the UMHB defense. Zach Van Arkel posted 18 stops to lead the Dutch and Ryan Schmidt added 15 stops and a pair of fumble recoveries.

The Cru will now advance to face Linfield (OR) College in the Second Round next Saturday. The Wildcats (10-0) advanced with a 38-17 victory over California Lutheran on Saturday. The two teams will be meeting for the first time since UMHB fell to Linfield 28-21 in the 2004 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. Saturday's game will kick off at 2:00 PM Central Time in McMinnville, Oregon.