SHERMAN, Texas- Though playing in front of a crowd numbering nearly 6,000 less than last week’s home victory over Hardin-Simmons, UMHB delivered its same premium performance, trouncing Austin College 56-0 on Saturday afternoon.
It had been 16 years since the Crusaders last battled the ‘Roos, but old memories of UMHB’s dominant wins in 2004 and 2005 seemed to resurface as the Cru notched its first shutout of the 2021 season. It was a convincing performance as UMHB enters next week’s conference-wide bye week.
“It was a good win and I think we came out of it in pretty good shape,” UMHB head coach Pete Fredenburg said on the Fox Sports Central Texas radio broadcast following the victory. “We have a few banged up, but we’ve got a week to regroup.”
It took little time for UMHB to find the end zone after quarterback Kyle King found 6’6 receiver Brandon Jordan for a 31-yard completion on the contest’s first play. The Cru’s opening drive consisted of a mere three plays, but amassed 71 yards, as receiver Aaron Sims pulled in a 37-yard pass from King to give the Cru an early 7-0 lead.
Though forced to punt after failing to convert a third-and-six pass attempt on their second drive, the Crusaders added two additional scores before the opening quarter came to a close. With five minutes remaining, King tossed his second touchdown of the day, a 34-yard strike to Brenton Martin. He then took UMHB’s third score of the game into the end zone himself from 54 yards out, breaking to the outside and away from tacklers.
The running game was a key component of UMHB’s up-tempo offense on Saturday afternoon, as the Cru tallied 297 yards on the ground. That yardage was evenly distributed, as five players had at least 40 yards.
Leading the rushing attack was first-year starter Aphonso Thomas, who on nine carries picked up 63 yards. All were positive gains and his third attempt resulted in a one-yard touchdown with 12:33 left in the second quarter.
It gave UMHB a 28-0 advantage; a lead that was stretched to 35-0 on Martin’s second touchdown reception nearly six minutes later.
The significant lead provided an opportunity for several of the team’s younger players to see second-half action, such as true freshman Johnny Smith-Rider, who had two solo tackles.
“We played a lot of young guys in the second half especially,” Fredenburg said. “Guys that are really going to help us, I think, this year as well as in the future.”
Backup quarterback Tommy Bowden ran the offense for the majority of the second half, and also saw the field during the second quarter. The junior fired his first touchdown pass of the season to Martin with 6:47 until halftime. He also added 43 yards rushing.
That came on the heels of a solid passing performance from King, who was 8-of-10 for 141 yards. His two touchdowns put him at No. 2 in the ASC in that category and he also leads the conference in rushing touchdowns, with nine.
The Crusader defense had an equally stellar showing, holding the ‘Roos to just two first downs in the first half. The pass defense was tight for the entirety of the game, as Austin College quarterback Tyler James was just 7-of-15 passing, and threw for 28 yards.
In fact, ‘Roos posted just 117 yards of total offense, the lowest for Austin College in any game this season.
Leading the defense was defensive end E’Monte Smith, who was responsible for 2.5 tackles for loss and a three-yard sack.
Earlier in the week, Fredenburg had noted the importance of his team being focused and “ready to go” at the beginning whistle. The Crusaders certainly took it to heart, playing four quarters of complete football.
“Yeah I do,” Fredenburg said when asked if he saw four complete quarters from his team. “We pushed the limits with our starters and got a chance to get everybody on the field. It was a good win for us. Now with an open date and hopefully some time to heal up and get ready to make a big push at the end.”