Editor’s Note: Above image from a previous game, provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
JACKSON, Mississippi- “Sheer dominance” might be the best way to describe the performance put together by the UMHB football team on Saturday, as the Cru played its first game in over a year, defeating ASC rival Belhaven, 41-0.
It was obvious that UMHB was ready to get back onto the field and play against an opponent, as the Cru came out of the gates with power.
After the two teams exhanged empty posssesions to begin the contest, UMHB quarterback Tommy Bowden flashed the speed that had been talked about throughout the preseason, finding the end zone on a 38-yard touchdown run to score UMHB’s first points of the five-game spring season.
Rain soon began to fall on a cloudy Mississippi day, and the Cru defense, prepared and ready for the challenging weather conditions, forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Glenn Thornton, putting the visitors from Belton up 14-0 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
As the offense got back to work early in the second quarter, Bowden found receiver Kadarius Daniels open deep in the end zone with 10:40 left in the first half. The 20-yard touchdown pass put the Cru up 20-0, though kicker Anthony Avila’s attempted extra point was blocked seconds later.
Once again, the defense stood strong and came up big, as senior safety Jefferson Frtiz stepped right in front of a Belhaven receiver, securing an interception on Belhaven’s own 30 yard line. It marked Fritz’s 20th career interception.
With great field position, Bowden and the Cru offense turned Fritz’s huge defensive play into points, as Daniels was handed the ball on a reverse sweep and raced into the end zone from 15 yards out, stretching the ball across the goal line as he was tackled. After a discussion, the officials deemed the carry a touchdown, putting UMHB up 27-0, capping off a two-play drive. That was the score as the two teams headed to the half, the Crusaders somewhat sure they would leave Jackson 1-0.
Despite the lopsided score, the high level of play from the first half translated into the second, with Bowden taking the ball 42 yards for his second touchdown run of the day, putting the Cru up 34-0 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Bowden’s first game as UMHB’s starting quarterback ended after three quarters, with victory in sight. The coaching staff allowed its sophomore signal caller to take a breather on the bench, as backup Kyle King tossed a touchdown of his own with 9:08 to play in the fourth quarter, hitting receiver Brenton Martin with a strike for a 42-yard touchdown. That would be the end of the Cru’s scoring for the day, as the defense protected the 41-0 lead as the seconds ticked away in the first victory of 2021 for UMHB.
Though the UMHB defense is young, the talent is evident, as Belhaven struggled to gain yardage on the ground or through the air, as the Blazer ballcarriers seemed to be swallowed up by a sea of Crusader defenders before even getting back to the line of scrimmage. The UMHB front seven continuously put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, even forcing the Belhaven coaching staff to make a quarterback change midway through the game.
The Cru defense held Belhaven to just 71 yards of total offense, five first downs and 79 rushing yards lost.
For Bowden, it was a day that he had been preparing for over the last several months. That preparation was obvious, as he posted four touchdowns, two rushing, two passing. Daniels, who missed 2019 with a knee injury, scored twice.
Mikkah Hackett stood tall for the UMHB defense, tallying 10 tackles. Three different Crusaders had at least one sack, with Sante Parker Jr. totaling 1.5 tackles for loss for 15 yards and a sack for a loss of 14 yards.
With an open date next Saturday, the Cru will now set its sights to the home opener against Louisiana College, set for Feb. 20th at 12 p.m. CT.
Box Score from Saturday’s game between Belhaven and UMHB: