BELTON, TEXAS - The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team stormed back from a halftime deficit and controlled the second half as the Cru held on for a 50-28 victory over Redlands (CA) in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Division III National Championships. UMHB (11-0) advances to the Second Round of the postseason for the 13th straight season. The loss ends the Bulldogs season at 8-2 overall.
Redlands led 21-14 at halftime and held UMHB on the opening drive of the second half. The Bulldogs were forced to punt from deep in their own territory and a fumbled snap led to a Cru safety to cut it to 21-16. UMHB added a 38-yard touchdown pass from Blake Jackson to T.J. Josey on the ensuing possession to give the Cru its first lead of the game at 23-21. Jackson’s six-yard scoring run on the next drive stretched it to 30-21, but Kyle Kabeary returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a score to close the gap to 30-28. Markeith Miller capped the next Cru drive with a 19-yard touchdown run to make it 37-28. The Bulldogs had a chance to close the gap, but UMHB stuffed a fake field goal try to maintain a nine-point edge. The Cru added Jackson’s six-yard scoring pass to Bryce Wilkerson and Miller’s 15-yard scoring run to close it out in the fourth quarter.
Redlands took the opening drive 81 yards for a score as Stephen Rodriguez’s 21-yard pass to Blake Roy on a fake punt kept the drive alive. Conner Kennedy scored on a five-yard run to make it 7-0 with 9:17 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs intercepted a pass three plays later to set up Mitch Kidd’s six-yard TD strike to Christian Guzman to make it 14-0 Redlands with 5:35 left in the opening period. Miller’s three-yard scoring plunge finally put the Cru on the board with 2:38 remaining in the first. Aaron Mandell scooped up a Jackson fumble and raced 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead before Jackson found Wilkerson with a 57-yard scoring pass to close the gap to seven at the break.
UMHB finished with 595 yards of total offense and rolled up 356 of those on the ground. Redlands managed just 34 rushing yards and 184 yards of total offense. The Cru committed three turnovers and intercepted two fourth quarter passes. UMHB also recorded six sacks.
Miller ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries for the Cru. Jackson ran for 153 yards and a touchdown and threw for 239 yards and three scores. Wilkerson caught five passes for 99 yards and a pair of scores. Keith Reineke and Tevin Jones topped UMHB’s defense with nine tackles apiece and Haston Adams added 2.5 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss.
Kidd was 14-26 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs. Guzman caught five passes for 45 yards and a score. Kennedy ran for 25 yards and a touchdown. Dustin Nascimento posted a game-high 15 tackles and Brian Keyser added 13 more.
UMHB advances to face Linfield College (9-1) in the Second Round next Saturday. The site for that game will be announced on Sunday. The Wildcats advanced with a 24-10 victory at Hardin-Simmons University in the opening round. UMHB and Linfield will be meeting for the second time this season and for the fifth time in the NCAA postseason.