The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team exercised some demons and used a dominating defensive effort to roll past Linfield College 24-3 Saturday afternoon in Oregon. The top-ranked Cru improves to 2-0 overall with its 17th consecutive victory. Linfield drops to 1-1.
Linfield missed a field goal on the game's opening drive and UMHB responded with a big offensive play two plays later. T.J. Josey raced 74 yards on a quarterback keeper to give the Cru an early 7-0 lead. It would stay that way until UMHB mounted a nine-play, 53-yard drive, capped by John Mowery's 44-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Cru with 6:13 left in the first half. A costly penalty and short punt set up a short field for the Wildcats just before halftime. Linfield turned it into Willy Warne's 51-yard field goal on the final play of the half to cut it to 10-3 Cru at the break.
UMHB rolled up 175 yards of offense in the first half with 118 of those coming on the ground. The Cru was penalized six times for 68 yards in the first 30 minutes. Linfield was held to 96 yards of offense in the first half, but held the ball for 17:55 compared to UMHB's 12:05 of possession.
Bryce Wilkerson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 95 yards for a Cru touchdown to stretch the lead to 17-3. Wilkerson set a new Cru career record for kickoff returns for touchdowns. The UMHB defense continued to come up with stops and the Cru added some insurance on Josey's 35-yard touchdown strike to Isaiah Townes in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin.
Josey threw for 130 yards and a TD and ran for 77 yards and a score. Markeith Miller added 96 rushing yards on 18 carries and DeNerian Thomas caught six passes for 50 yards.
UMHB rolled up 353 yards of total offense with 190 of those coming on the ground. The Cru defense held the Wildcats to 34 rushing yards and 141 yards of total offense. UMHB also forced nine Linfield punts in posting its first win over the Wildcats in McMinnville in three tries. The Cru's last loss came at Linfield in the Quarterfinals of the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championships.
The Cru will now return home to host Texas Lutheran University in a return to American Southwest Conference play next Saturday. That game will kick off at 6:00 PM at Crusader Stadium. UMHB has won 17 straight meetings with the Bulldogs.