NCAA First Round
Saturday, Nov. 17 • Noon • Crusader Stadium • Belton, Texas
HSU (9-1) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (10-0)
Countdown To Kickoff
▶ Hardin-Simmons has made its way to the NCAA Football Playoffs for the fourth straight season and will travel to conference rival Mary Hardin-Baylor in the first round at noon on Saturday in Belton.
▶ The Cowboys are 9-1 for the fourth straight season. HSU is one of just seven teams in Division III with nine or more wins in each of the last four seasons. HSU joins that list with Mount Union, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Saint John's, Delaware Valley, Johns Hopkins and St. Thomas.
▶ HSU is making its ninth trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs. The first two times HSU went in 1999 and 2000 HSU went to the quarterfinals and semifinals. Since then it has been a long drought since recording a win. HSU has lost seven straight first-round appearances in the NCAA playoffs. Four of those have been rematches with the Cru in the playoffs. The last two have been to Linfield.
▶ The Cowboys closed the regular season with a convincing 83-6 win over crosstown rival McMurry on Senior and Military Appreciation day at Hardin-Simmons. HSU retained the Wilford Moore Trophy and sent its 32 seniors off with a win in their final guaranteed game at Shelton Stadium. HSU is now 17-1 all-time in the Wilford Moore Trophy Game. The game also featured a flyover by a C-130 for the national anthem and Dyess Air Force Base personnel and their families as well as fallen soldiers' families were honored at the game.
▶ The winner of Saturday's game will face the winner of the game between Berry and Maryville in the second round.
▶ The Cowboys rolled up 83 points and 676 yards in the win over McMurry.
▶ McMurry had six first-quarter possessions that resulted in just 26 yards, four punts, an interception and a fumble and the Cowboy converted it into a 35-0 first quarter lead.
▶ Bryson Hammonds scored six touchdowns, including five rushing and had a career-best 205 yards on the ground.
▶ HSU had 392 yards in the game on the ground to give them 2,848 for the year which is a new school record.
▶ Reese Childress scored a pair of touchdowns in the game to give him 46 for his career. That is just five short of the career record.
▶ HSU maintained the Wilford Moore Trophy and moved to 17-1 all-time in the game named after Wilford Moore, who is in both school's athletic hall of fame.
▶ The Cowboys are averaging 52.2 points per game on the year, which is the most in school history.
▶ HSU is averaging 547.8 yards per game, which is about nine yards below the school record of 558.4 set in 2012.
▶ The Cowboys are averaging 7.21 yards per rush on the year which is the school record. The old mark is 5.92 set last year.
▶ Bryson Hammonds has rushed for 1,056 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has only been full-time at running back for five games. He has gone over 100 yards in each of those five contests and the school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games is six.
▶ Kavan Johnson had a career-best 104 yards last week in the win over McMurry.
▶ Ty Hooper has put together a great season with 2,316 yards and 24 touchdowns with just five interceptions. In the five games since the UMHB loss the first game, he is 96-for-143 for 1,458 yards and 20 TDs with just one interception.
▶ One of his new favorite targets in the five-game streak is freshman Kevi Evans who didn't play much in the first game. Evans has seven TDs in the last five games and gives the Cowboy a different downfield threat.
▶ Reese Childress has 65 catches for 847 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season and passed Kirk Rogers on the career receptions charts last week. He currently has 201 receptions for 3,149 yards and 36 TDs in his career. He also has 46 total touchdowns.
▶ The key for the Cowboys will be the offensive line that will feature four seniors and a junior who is a three-year starter. The unit has combined for 101 career starts. Patrick Riley and Jonathan Castaneda are both three-year starters at tackle.
▶ HSU is allowing 3.0 yards per rush on the year. That is the fourth-best mark in school history.
▶ Dedrick Strambler has 173 interception return yards which is a new school record, passing the old record of 160 by Will Galusha. He also is in the top 10 in career interceptions with nine. He could move to fifth with just two more.
▶ Hunter Creasey ranks eighth in sacks in a season with eight. The record is 13 by Scott Forbes. He also has moved into the career top 10 with 14.5 for his career. He is tied with Marte Amrine for ninth. He could get to fifth with three more sacks.
▶ The Cowboys have 13 different players that have recorded at least one-half of a sack this season.
▶ In the last two games, the Cowboys have held the opponent to under 100 yards in both passing and rushing.
Special Teams Notes
▶ The Cowboys three kickoff returns for touchdowns ties the school record also set in 1990, 2013 and 2016. Rae Millsap is averaging 37.7 yards per return on the year and has two touchdowns. Kevi Evans also has a touchdown on a kickoff return.
▶ Jamie Pogue set the school record for PAT makes with 67 as he went 11-for-11 last week. He also needs two points to pass Mark Smith for the top scoring season by a kicker. He has 82 points on the year.
▶ Trey Proffitt has been solid on kickoffs with 20 of his 80 kickoffs being touchbacks and the average starting position for the opponents is the 28-yard line.
▶ Reese Childress has averaged 41.3 yards per punt this season and 12 of his 30 kicks have been inside the 20.
Scouting MAry Hardin-baylor
▶ The Cru is built around a defense that ranks No. 1 nationally allowing just 174.4 yards per
game and also in No. 1 in scoring defense allowing just 6.4 points per game.
▶ UMHB ranks 10th nationally in yards per game and leads the nation with 62.3 points per game.
▶ For the year, they have scored seven touchdowns on defense and they have allowed only nine.
▶ They have allowed no more than 15 points in a game this season and that was last week against East Texas Baptist. They have eight games allowing seven points or less.
▶ The Cru has returned seven punts and one kickoff for touchdowns this season.
▶ Markeith Miller leads the offensive charge for UMHB. He has rushed for 1,301 yards and 22 touchdowns. DeNarian Thomas has 11 rushing touchdowns out of a short-yardage package the Cru runs.
▶ Jase Hammack has been the primary quarterback and he has 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. Luke Poorman has played in nine games and has eight TD passes and Thomas has thrown five TD passes.
▶ K.J. Miller leads the team with 34 catches and T.J. Josey has 26 catches and seven touchdowns. The Cru averages 15 yards per catch and one in every six completions goes for a touchdown.
▶ Aaron Sims is averaging 30.7 yards and has scored four touchdowns on punt returns this year. K.J. Miller averages 27 yards on 22 punt returns and has scored three times.
▶ Defensively, the Cru has been impressive and it is by committee. They have 15 players with 20 or more tackles on the year and no one has more than 50 tackles. A lot of that is because the front line defense is often on the bench because of the score. Joey Longoria leads the team with 7.5 sacks and Eric Wright has 14.5 tackles for loss.
▶ Jefferson Fritz has eight interceptions on the year. The team has 20 interceptions on the year and have forced 32 turnovers.
▶ The Cru had some kicking problems earlier in the season, but Anthony Avila has settled in and has made 50-of-53 PATs and is 8-for-8 on field goals.
First Time Vs. UMHB
▶ The Cru won 26-0 in Belton on Oct. 6 it snapped a streak of 256 straight games with a touchdown for the Cowboys.
▶ HSU had 222 yards and the Cru had 466 in the game.
▶ Markieth Miller had 190 yards on 29 carries for the Cru in the game.
▶ Chris Miller had a career-best 16 tackles in the game.
Head Coach Jesse Burleson
Head coach Jesse Burleson is starting his eighth season at the helm of the Cowboys. He has a career record of 57-24 and has led the Cowboys to three straight trips to the NCAA playoffs. He has produced a 14 All-Americans as the head coach and last year Vic Rodriguez was named the Rimington Award recipient as the top center in Division III. Burleson also coaches the offensive line.