The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team will open defense of its 2016 Division III National Championship when the Cru kicks off the 2017 season at home this Saturday against American Southwest Conference foe Sul Ross State University. The game is also the kick off of season #20 of UMHB football.
The Cru enters the game ranked #1 in the country by D3football.com and UMHB will be playing a game for the first time since beating Wisconsin-Oshkosh 10-7 in Stagg Bowl XLIV last December in Salem, Virginia. The Cru welcomes back 40 lettermen and six starters are both sides of the ball from that team this year. Sul Ross State is 1-0 on the year after beating U.T.-Permian Basin 47-22 last Saturday in Odessa. The Lobos have won five of their last six games dating back to last season and are receiving votes in the D3football.com Top 25 poll for the first time in program history.
“They have really improved as a program and that win over UTPB really gets your attention,” Cru Head Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “Sul Ross is a good football team with some really good football players and they have so many returners. They are playing with a lot of confidence and I know they will be fired up to play against the defending National Champion.”
This will be the first time in program history the Cru has opened the season with a conference game. UMHB leads the all-time series with Sul Ross State 19-0 and topped the Lobos 59-10 last season in Alpine. That game was close at halftime before UMHB capitalized on several Sul Ross mistakes to break it open in the second half. The Lobos would rally to finish third in the ASC last season and Head Coach John Pearce was voted ASC Coach of the Year.
“Opening the season with a conference game adds some pressure for our players and them having a game in hand is a big advantage for Sul Ross,” Fredenburg said. “Our players need to understand the magnitude of this game and come out and give great effort on Saturday.”
There are several special events scheduled for the season opener. The first 3,000 fans through the gates will receive a free t-shirt and Slovacek Sausage wraps will be on sale for $1 during the game. There will be a special unveiling ceremony to recognize the National Championship Team as part of the pre-game festivities and the ASC Champion UMHB men’s golf team will receive championship rings at halftime.
For more information on parking, traffic flow and game day events, please visit the following link: http://www.umhb.edu/stadium/directions-and-parking. UMHB will also be offering a free fan shuttle to help with parking issues on game day. The shuttles will run from the Crusader SportsPlex off of Crusader Way to Gate One at Crusader Stadium. The shuttle service will begin at 4:30 PM and will run until 9:30 PM or 30 minutes after the game ends. There will be signage at the SportsPlex and at Gate One for pick up and drop off points. Sul Ross State fans are encouraged to enter the stadium through ticket window #3 at the southeast corner of Crusader Stadium.
Saturday’s game will also be broadcast live on K101.7 FM and through the station’s web site with the pre-game show starting at 5:30 PM. UMHB will provide live video streaming and live statistics for the game with links to both available by clicking here: http://portal.stretchinternet.com/umhb/. Tickets are still available and the ticket windows are scheduled to open at 4:00 PM on Saturday. Reserved tickets are $12. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students. The stadium gates will open at 4:30 PM on Saturday. Tickets left at Will Call will be available for pickup at any ticket window on game day.