BELTON, Texas – Hardin-Simmons' football team saw its season come to a close with a 27-6 loss to No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs at Crusader Stadium in Belton.
The Cowboys gave a great effort against the Cru, but couldn't overcome four turnovers. HSU held the nation's top offense to 237 yards of total offense in the game and the Cowboys moved the ball against the Cru's top-ranked defense.
UMHB took the opening possession of the game and went 65 yards in nine plays and Markeith Miller capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. On the first play of the Cowboys' first drive, Ty Hooper was intercepted but the HSU defense held and forced a field goal attempt that Chris Miller blocked.
HSU then went on a 14-play drive down to the UMHB 6-yard line, but the play of the game came when Reginald Cole jumped a screen pass, intercepted and raced untouched 88 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 with 1:07 to play in the first half.
The Cowboys didn't flinch and came right back with a 77-yard, 11-play drive that Bryson Hammonds finished off with a 21-yard touchdown run where he carried four defenders into the end zone. The PAT was blocked and HSU trailed 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Neither team could get much going the rest of the half until the Cru took the ball with 1:27 left and on third down Jase Hammack hit Aaron Sims on a 58-yard catch and run for a touchdown with :43 to play in the first half.
The third quarter was scoreless as neither team was able to move the ball. UMHB added a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter to set up the final score.
HSU finishes the season with a record of 9-2 for the fourth straight season. UMHB (11-0) advances to play Berry College next week.
Hammonds had 125 yards rushing and scored a touchdown and tied the school record with his sixth straight 100-yard rushing performance. Markeith Miller had 110 yards for the Cru and Jase Hammack was 10-for-14 for 125 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. Ty Hooper went 17-for-29 for 134 yards and four interceptions in his final game as a Cowboy.
Chris Miller had a stellar day for the Cowboys in his final game. He led the defensive effort with nine tackles, had two tackles for loss, intercepted a pass a blocked a field goal.
It was the final contest for 32 HSU seniors. The senior class became the first class of seniors to reach the NCAA playoffs four straight seasons.
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