The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team controlled the first half and then held on through the second as the Cru knocked off Sul Ross State 23-7 in the 2017 season opener Saturday evening in Belton. UMHB extends its school-record winning streak to 16 games and is now 1-0 overall and 1-0 in American Southwest Conference play on the season. The Lobos drop to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the ASC with the loss.
The Cru took the opening possession and marched 50 yards in nine plays before bogging down in the red zone. John Mowery connected on a 35-yard field goal to give UMHB a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. It would stay that way into the second quarter. DeNerian Thomas returned a Lobo punt 49 yards to the Sul Ross 21-yard line on the final play of the first period. UMHB managed just four yards before Mowery hit from 34 yards out to make it 6-0 Cru with 13:41 left in the first half. Haston Adams forced a Sul Ross fumble on the next play and Santos Villarreal scooped it up at the Lobo 12-yard line. The Sul Ross defense stiffened once again and UMHB had to settle for another 34-yard field goal from Mowery to push the lead to 9-0. The Cru finally put a touchdown on the board when T.J. Josey hit Bryce Wilkerson for a 25-yard score on an inside screen and Mowery’s extra point made it 16-0 with 3:54 left in the half.
UMHB’s defense held the Lobos to just six total yards in the first half. The Sul Ross defense limited the Cru to 187 first half yards. UMHB picked up 81 of those yards on the touchdown drive in building that 16-0 halftime lead.
Sul Ross took the second half kickoff and drove to the Cru 19-yard line, but the UMHB defense forced back-to-back incompletions on third and fourth down to force a turnover on downs. The Cru would mount another 81-yard drive as Josey hit Isaiah Townes with a nine-yard TD strike on a perfectly thrown fade route to give UMHB a 23-0 lead midway through the third quarter. The Lobos responded with a 79-yard scoring drive capped by a nine-yard touchdown toss from James Davis to Jeremy Reed to cut the gap to 23-7. It would stay that way into the final period. Sul Ross had three possessions in the fourth quarter, but the Cru defense forced punts on the first two and Jordan Millar sacked Davis on fourth and seven to end the Lobos final drive and cap the victory.
UMHB finished with 203 rushing yards and 320 yards of total offense in the victory. The Lobos finished with 34 rushing yards and 178 total yards. Both teams committed a turnover and Sul Ross was charged with six penalties, four of them in the final period to help the Cru run out the clock. UMHB also held the ball for 33:42 of the game.
Josey was 12-22 passing for 117 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate start at quarterback. He added 91 yards rushing on 22 carries. Markeith Miller ran for 98 yards on 26 totes for the Cru. Wilkerson caught five passes for 59 yards and a score. Tevin Jones, Chris Jones and Raylon Hickey topped the UMHB defense with five tackles apiece.
Davis was 15-28 passing for 144 yards and a score for the Lobos. Williton Grear ran for 29 yards on 14 carries and Byron Jones caught six passes for 65 yards. Mike Quinonez led SRSU with 11 tackles and Job Mason added 10 stops.
The Cru will make the longest road trip of the season next Saturday as UMHB heads to McMinnville, Oregon to face nationally-ranked Linfield College. That game is scheduled for a 3:30 PM Central Time kickoff at Maxwell Field on the Linfield campus.