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Football Game Preview for Game 9 (vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor); Kickoff 1 p.m. Saturday in Belton, Texas

Jackson Worley (44) and Adairius Norwood (34). Photo by Dustin Wyatt.
Jackson Worley (44) and Adairius Norwood (34). Photo by Dustin Wyatt.
 

Mary Hardin-Baylor vs. Texas Lutheran

(UMHB leads series, 20-1)

1998 @UMHB 27, Texas Lutheran 3

1999 @Texas Lutheran 34, UMHB 24

2000 UMHB 42, @Texas Lutheran 28

2001 @UMHB 44, Texas Lutheran 9

2002 UMHB 24, @Texas Lutheran 5

2003 @UMHB 27, Texas Lutheran 7

2004 UMHB 36, @Texas Lutheran 27

2005 @UMHB 28, Texas Lutheran 21

2006 @UMHB 31, Texas Lutheran 9

2007 UMHB 48, @Texas Lutheran 0

2008 @UMHB 63, Texas Lutheran 7

2009 UMHB 59, @Texas Lutheran 7

2010 @UMHB 81, Texas Lutheran 3

2011 UMHB 56, @Texas Lutheran 17

2012 @UMHB 49, Texas Lutheran 31

2014 UMHB 72, @Texas Lutheran 16

2014 @UMHB 27, Texas Lutheran 20*

2015 @UMHB 48, Texas Lutheran 20

2016 UMHB 56, @Texas Lutheran 21

2017 @UMHB 50, Texas Lutheran 7

2018 UMHB 47, Texas Lutheran 14

* NCAA playoff game in Belton

 

ASC title, NCAA berth on the line

Twenty-fifth-ranked Texas Lutheran and second-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor meet Saturday in Belton, Texas for the American Southwest Conference Championship and for the ASC's automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA Division III Football Championship. UMHB, the defending national champion, has 20 consecutive wins over the Bulldogs. TLU's last win over the Cru came in 1999, in Seguin's Matador Stadium, when the Bulldogs were in their second year since re-instating the football program and the Cru were in their second year in their program's history. 

 

Bulldogs seek first-ever ASC crown

For the second time in its history, Texas Lutheran will play a game with an American Southwest Conference Championship on the line. The winner of Saturday's game in Belton will be the ASC champion and hold any potential tiebreaker over the other team. Both UMHB and TLU have one conference regular-season game remaining after Saturday's contest in Belton. The only other time TLU played for an ASC championship came in 2004, when TLU traveled to Abilene, Texas to face Hardin-Simmons in the final regular-season game of the year.

 

TLU came up one win short in 2004

TLU needed a win in that final 2004 road game to force a three-way tie for the ASC regular-season title. HSU defeated TLU 59-29 to win the outright conference title. Both HSU and UMHB qualified for the 2004 NCAA playoffs. UMHB went on to defeat HSU in the playoffs and play for the NCAA Championship. The Cru fell to Linfield (Ore.) in that national championship contest.

 

Playing for 4th conference crown overall

Texas Lutheran Football left the American Southwest Conference briefly, for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, and competing as an SCAC football member from 2013 to 2016. In that time, TLU won three SCAC Championships - in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The SCAC did not have an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs for its conference champion. TLU made the 2014 NCAA playoffs as an at-large selection. The Bulldogs face Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2014 in the first round and fell 27-20 in Belton. That game took over 24 hours to play because of repeated weather delays.

 

TLU breaks into D3football.com Top 25

After being just outside the D3football.com Top 25 for two weeks, TLU broke into the poll at No. 25 this past week. TLU still cannot break the Top 25 for the American Football Coaches Association poll. The Bulldogs are in position No. 26 in this weeks AFCA poll.

 

D3football.com Top 25, 2019 Week 9

Rank School (No. 1 votes) W-L Points Prev.

1 Mount Union (15) 8-0 614 1

2 Mary Hardin-Baylor (10) 8-0 602 2

3 UW-Whitewater 8-0 575 3

4 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-0 554 5

5 Muhlenberg 8-0 518 6

6 North Central (Ill.) 7-1 476 7

7 Salisbury 7-0 439 10

8 St. John's 7-1 414 4

9 Bethel 7-1 385 9

10 John Carroll 7-1 339 11

11 Wartburg 8-0 323 12

12 Wesley 7-1 308 14

13 Delaware Valley 8-1 280 15

14 Union 8-0 257 25

15 Chapman 7-0 253 16

16 Hardin-Simmons 6-2 222 17

17 Ithaca 7-1 201 8

18 St. Thomas 6-2 189 19

19 Susquehanna 7-1 183 20

20 Case Western Reserve 8-0 150 21

21 Redlands 7-1 147 23

22 Berry 7-1 126 22

23 Linfield 6-1 119 24

24 Bridgewater 8-0 92 --

25 Texas Lutheran 7-1 87 --

 

Dropped out: No. 13 UW-Platteville; No. 18 Cortland.

Others receiving votes: Brockport 77; UW-Platteville 51; UW-La Crosse 40; Cortland 24; Whitworth 17; Baldwin Wallace 17; UW-Oshkosh 13; Washington U. 9; Johns Hopkins 8; Middlebury 5; Denison 4; Hope 4; Hanover 3.

 

2019 American Football Coaches Association Division III Coaches' Poll – November 4, 2019 

1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (35) 8-0 1280 1

2 Mount Union (17) 8-0 1265 2

3 Wisconsin-Whitewater 8-0 1197 3

4 Wheaton 8-0 1136 5

5 Muhlenberg 8-0 1084 6

6 North Central 7-1 974 8

7 Wartburg 8-0 947 9

8 Salisbury 7-0 898 10

9 John Carroll 7-1 842 11

10 Delaware Valley 8-1 758 12

11 Bethel 7-1 749 13

12 St. John's (MN) 7-1 683 4

13 Wesley 7-1 613 14

14 Hardin-Simmons 6-2 536 16

15 Case Western Reserve 8-0 507 17

16 Chapman 7-0 494 19

17 Union 8-0 425 24

18 Linfield 6-1 411 20

T-19 Ithaca 7-1 344 7

T-19 Susquehanna 7-1 344 22

21 Berry 7-1 336 21

22 St. Thomas (MN) 6-2 273 23

23 Bridgewater 8-0 198 25

24 Redlands 7-1 116 NR

25 Brockport 7-1 90 NR

 

Dropped out: Wisconsin-Platteville (15), Cortland (18)

Others receiving votes: Texas Lutheran, 80; Cortland, 59; Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 55; Baldwin-Wallace, 35; Wisconsin-Platteville, 31; Central (Iowa) 30; Wisconsin-La Crosse, 26; Hope, 23; Denison, 16; Middlebury, 11; Martin Luther, 10; Hanover, 9; Heidelberg, 6; Whitworth, 4; Randolph-Macon, 2; Birmingham-Southern, 1; Hobart, 1; Western New England (Mass.), 1.

 

TLU ranked eighth in South Region

Three teams represent the American Southwest Conference in the first NCAA Football South Regional Rankings of the season, released Wednesday. The regional rankings are used by the NCAA Division III selection committee to determine participants in the NCAA Championship. Mary Hardin-Baylor (8-0, 7-0 ASC) comes in at No. 1 in the South after defeating Louisiana College 82-0 on the road. The Cru will take on No. 25 Texas Lutheran at 1 p.m. in Belton, Texas. Texas Lutheran (7-1, 7-0 ASC) is ranked No. 8 after topping Belhaven 34-14 at home. The Bulldogs will go on the road to face No. 1/2 UMHB on Saturday. Hardin-Simmons (6-2, 5-2 ASC) is 10th in the rankings after defeating McMurry 91-29 at home. The Cowboys will travel to East Texas Baptist on Saturday.

 

Bulldogs No. 25 for total first downs

The Bulldogs are now ranked 25th in the nation for total first downs, with 184 first downs through eight games. A total of 105 first downs have come via the running game. Last week against Belhaven, the Bulldogs picked up 20 first downs with 10 of them coming on the ground, seven through the air and three by penalties.

 

Bulldogs RBs All Score vs. Belhaven

Ian Leslie, Austin Mathews, and Chris Monroe all found their way into the endzone against Belhaven last week. Each scored one touchdown. The group rushed for 172 yards for the game, bringing the group's season total to 1,416 yards and 13 touchdowns.

 

Freeman still producing positive results

Although TLU sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman threw his first interception of the year against Belhaven, that didn't stop him from having a day. Throwing for 203 yards with touchdown passes of 57 and 49 yards, both to CJ Romero, Freeman accounted for 227 yards of total offense. For the year, Freeman has thrown for 1,153 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he has rushed 531 yards and six touchdowns. Freeman is completing 63.6 percent of his passes and averaging 5.4 yards per rush Freeman is second nationally D3 for fewest interceptions, and he is 30th nationally in passer efficiency. 

 

Manny Longoria into the backfield

Already TLU's NCAA D3-era sack leader, Manny Longoria became TLU's D3-era leader for tackles for loss with his last tackle for loss last week against Belhaven. Longoria now has 45 career tackles for loss, surpassing Darian Candler for the D3-era lead. Longoria now has six sacks this year for 29 yards in losses and 10.5 tackles for loss for 44 yards in losses. In his career, Longoria has 223 yards in opponent losses. He also has scored two career defensive touchdowns, both on fumble recoveries and returns.

 

Kedrick Ward with 7 take-aways in 2019

In the home win over Belhaven, Kedrick Ward recorded an interception and a fumble recovery (for 16 yards), and he added three tackles. Ward now has seven total take-aways this year between his four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. For his career, the four-year letterman has seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries. He has scored two career defensive touchdowns - an interception return for a score in 2018 against Hardin-Simmons and a fumble recovery for a score this year against Southwestern.

 

Derek Dunn back in action

Coming off an injury, TLU senior linebacker Derek Dunn had a solid first game back - getting a sack and tackle for loss (totaling 12 yards lost) and adding three total tackles. Even with missed time, Dunn is still second on the team with 42 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss.

 

Bulldogs No. 19 for two defensive stats

The Bulldogs are ranked 19th in the nation for team sacks, with 3.38 per game, and 19th in team tackles for loss, with 8.5 per game. The Bulldogs' defensive line leads the charge with 12 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss, and Derek Dunn has stepped up with 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

 

Bulldogs' elite turnover margin

This year, the Bulldogs are ranked 10th in the nation for the least number of turnovers, with only seven this year. The team is fourth in the nation with 24 turnovers forced. This leads to the Bulldogs having a third-ranked turnover margin, at +2.13 per game. The Bulldogs are ranked first in the conference in all three of the turnover stats.

 

Reed UMHB's all-purpose yards leader

Jonel Reed has had a great year so far, catching 35 passes for 619 yards and nine touchdowns. In UMHB's last game against Louisiana College, Reed caught eight balls for 133 yards and two touchdowns. His 133 receiving yards was more than half of the total passing yards UMHB had for the day.

 

UMHB has fifth-ranked scoring offense

Averaging 50.4 points per game, UMHB has the conference's highest scoring offense as well as the fifth-highest average in the nation. The Cru will be coming off an 82-point game against Louisiana college, where they had 37 points off turnovers.

 

UMHB converts on 4th down

 

The Cru offense has been excellent on fourth down, converting 75 percent of their attempts. That conversion rates is the second-best in the nation. On the defensive side of the ball, they are ranked seventh in the nation for holding teams to a 25.2 percent success rate when going for it on fourth down.

 

Jo'Vel McDaniel leads Cru rushing attack

With 87 attempts, Jo'Vel McDaniel has gained 491 yards and pushed into the endzone seven times. In the last game against Louisiana College, McDaniel showed off his receiving chops with two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown on top of his 44 rushing yards.

 

UMHB with two solid options at QB

Jase Hammack and Luke Poorman have both been reliable quarterback options for the Cru this year. Hammack has had 82 attempts this year, throwing for a 59.85% completion percentage with 767 yards and 12 touchdowns to his name. Poorman has a completion percentage of 71 percent with 69 attempts for 749 yards and eight touchdowns.

 

Johnson, Jackson are the Cru ballhawks

Both Drake Johnson and Akeem Jackson have three interceptions this year making up for six of the Cru's 12 picks. Not only are these two getting into the position to make the catches, they're returning them for big yards with Johnson returning his for a total of 99 yards and Jackson bringing his back for 147 yards.

 

Tevin Jones is a tackling machine

The Cru's leading tackler, Tevin Jones, has 89 tackles through eight games, with 50 coming off assists and 39 of the solo variety. Jones also has two sacks and seven tackles for loss, totaling 48 yards lost for opponents.

 

UMHB second in scoring defense

The Cru defense has been difficult to score against, with opposing teams averaging only 7.4 points. In their eight games, UMHB has three shutouts. None of their opponents have scored more than 15 points in a contest this year.

 

Cru No. 1 for tackles for loss

Averaging 10.8 tackles for loss per game, the Cru defense has a nose for the backfield. The team leader in TFL, defensive end E'Monte Smith, has 13 tackles for loss this season for 64 yards lost. With 86 tackles for loss as a team, the Cru have pushed back teams a total of 321 yards through eight games.

 

Cru lead conference in rushing defense

The Bulldogs are going to have to overcome the nation's eighth-best rushing defense (and the ASC rushing defense leader) when they meet UMHB on Saturday. The Cru defense has been suffocating, allowing only 64.3 rushing yards per game. The battle of TLU's ground attack vs. this stellar defense will be a key to the game. In last year's home loss to UMHB, TLU had just 84 rushing yards on 36 attempts, an average of 2.3 yards per carry. TLU enters Saturday's game averaging 258.5 yards per game and 5.1 yards per rush. The Cru allows just 1.7 yards per carry this year.