The Best of Belton Week 5 Football Preview: Austin College at No. 3/4 UMHB

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Austin College at No. 3/4 UMHB

Date: Oct. 1

Place: Crusader Stadium, Belton TX

Time: 2:00 p.m. CST

Streaming: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/umhb/

Radio: 93.9 FM/1330 AM

Pregame reading

The Series

UMHB has dominated this series since 2000, after suffering losses to AC during the first two years of the program’s existence. The opponents played every year from 1998 to 2005, with UMHB winning the latter six contests. But once AC moved to the SCAC conference, the Cru and the ‘Roos did not meet on the gridiron again until last season, when AC joined the ASC as a football-only affiliate. UMHB beat the ‘Roos 56-0 in Sherman last year. This season marks the first time AC has traveled to Belton since 2004. 

Notable Facts

Saturday marks UMHB’s homecoming contest. In homecoming games, the Crusaders have been tough to beat, posting a 19-4 record, with 16 straight wins since 2005. This is not the first time that UMHB and AC have battled in one of the Cru’s homecoming games. In 1998, UMHB’s inaugural season, AC was the homecoming opponent, and defeated the Crusaders 34-20. That remains the closest score in the nine meetings between these two teams. 

Personnel-wise, both starting quarterbacks double as punters, not something seen very often. Kyle King is averaging 44.0 yards per punt on five punts so far in 2022, while AC’s Tyler James comes off a year in which he earned AFCA All-America honors for his punting abilities. He was also the ASC’s First Team All-Conference punter in 2021, and enters Saturday’s game averaging 40.7 yards per punt.

In the Polls

UMHB is ranked No. 4 this week by D3football.com, and No. 3 by the American Football Coaches Association.

About the opponent: Austin College ‘Roos 

Head Coach: Loren Dawson (13th season)

Conference: American Southwest (ASC)

Season Record (overall/conf): 0-3, 0-1 (L @ Hendrix, 20-0, L vs Rhodes, 23-7, L @ Sul Ross State, 55-14)

2021 Record (overall/conf): 1-8, 1-8 ASC

Week 4: Bye

You’ll know they’re playing well if: the triple option proves effective. One of the few teams that runs this old-fashioned heavy rushing offense, it is not a scheme that UMHB’s defense has prepared for very often. The ‘Roos rarely throw the football, and through three games, are 0-for-14 on passing attempts. But they can run it, averaging 175 rushing yards per game. Establishing consistent gains on first and second down will be AC’s key on offense this season. 

Names to know 

OFFENSE: Sr. RB Kennon Magers (#39) (26 carries, 105 yds, 4.0 yds/carry), Fr. QB Ben Meraz (#13) (22 carries, 92 yds, 1 TD), Gr. QB Tyler James (#9) (41 carries, 41 yds, 1 TD, 0-for-13 passing)

DEFENSE: So. LB Brady Dygert (#5) (10 solo tackles, 23 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5.5 TFL), So. DB Texas Gordon (#20) (9 solo tackles, 17 total tackles, 1 forced fumble), Jr. LB Colton Gerken (#0) (11 solo tackles, 22 total tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL)

About the No. 3/4 UMHB Crusaders

Head Coach: Larry Harmon (1st year) 

Conference: American Southwest (ASC)

Season Record (overall/conf): 3-1, 2-0 (W vs Muhlenberg 62-13, L @ UW-Whitewater, 24-28, W vs Southwestern, 68-14, W @ Hardin-Simmons, 50-20)

2021 Record: 15-0, 9-0 ASC

Week 4: Win at Hardin-Simmons, 50-20 

You’ll know they’re playing well if: The defense is consistently getting off the field on third down and forcing turnovers. The Cru tallied four takeaways last week against HSU, and is looking to make its turnover margin +8 or more against AC. UMHB has lost one fumble this season, but recovered four fumbles by the opponent, along with four interceptions. Turnovers can quickly change the game, with a strong front seven, the Cru can produce them in a hurry. 

Offensively, balance is the name of the game for the Cru, who have a plethora of weapons at both the running back and receiver positions. As long as the offensive line is on point, and giving King time in the pocket, the playmakers produce. 

Names to know

OFFENSE: Sr. QB Kyle King (#17) (66-of-97 passing, 1163 pass yds, 15 TD, 0 INT), Sr. RB Aphonso Thomas (#0) (51 carries, 318 rush yds, 6.2 yds/carry, 4 TD), Sr. WR KJ Miller (#7) (24 receptions, 373 receiving yds, 3 TD), Sr. WR Brandon Jordan (#21) (18 receptions, 300 receiving yards, 5 TD)

DEFENSE: So. LB Durand Hill (#25) (12 solo tackles, 24.0 tackles, 2.5 TFL), So. LB Johnny Smith-Rider (#28) (17 solo tackles, 25.0 total tackles, 8.0 TFL, 1.0 sack), Sr. DB Tommy Bowden (#4) (14 solo tackles, 20.0 total tackles, 2.0 TFL, 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble),  Jr. DB Omari Frazier (#13) (8 solo tackles, 13.0 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT)

UMHB Two Deep Depth Chart (Per the UMHB Athletics Department)

*-Team Captain, L-Varsity Letter, SQ- Previously on varsity roster in past season(s) but has seen no playing time, TR- Transfer

Offense

Quarterback: Kyle King (Sr.-2L), Jackson Tingler (Jr.-1L),

Running Back: Aphonso Thomas (Sr. 1L), Kenneth Cormier Jr. (Jr.-2L)

Wide Receiver: Jerry Day (So.-1L), Jamaal Hamilton (Sr.-1L)

Wide Receiver: KJ Miller (Sr.-4L), Jerry Cephus (So,-JV)

Wide Receiver: Brandon Jordan (Sr.-2L), Marvin Young Jr. (Sr.-TR)

Tight End: Connor Mullins (Jr.-2L), Will McClintock (So.-TR)

Left Tackle: Reuel Tandoh (Jr.-2L), Kyle Wente (So.-1L)

Left Guard: Jesse Hoke (Jr.-2L), Wyatt Crawford (Jr.-2L)

Center: Jeffery Sims Jr. (Sr.-4L), Jacob Dailey (So.-2L)

Right Guard: Matt Sanders (Sr.-3L), John Schnautz (So.-JV)

Right Tackle: Ethan Ruckman (Jr.-2L), John Kazmierski (Sr.-3L)

Defense

Left Defensive End: Trey Belyeu-Witcher (So.-1L), Jose Fuentes (So.-JV)

Left Defensive Tackle: Pete Smith (Sr.-3L), Preston Johnson (So.-JV)

Right Defensive Tackle: Tristan Green (So.-1L), Mason Cavness (So.-JV)

Right Defensive End: Sante Parker Jr. (Sr.-3L), Kobe Giles (Jr.-2L)

Weakside Linebacker:  Johnny Smith-Rider (So.-1L), Jaqai Neal (Fr.-HS)

Middle Linebacker: Durand Hill (So.-1L), Chaise Ellis (So.-SQ)

Strongside Linebacker: Omari Frazier (Jr.-2L), Caden Steubing (Jr.-JV)

Cru (Flex Safety): Tommy Bowden (Sr.-3L), Diarva Brown (Sr.-TR)

Free Safety: Dorian Williams (Jr.-TR), Cameron Mitton (Fr.-HS)

Cornerback: Titus Dunk (Sr.-3L), Trashawn Adams (So.-1L)

Cornerback: Chaka Watson (Jr.-2L), Tavion Page (Sr.-3L)

Special Teams

Kicker: Anthony Avila (Sr.-3L),  Jack Bruner (Fr.-HS)

Punter: Kyle King (Sr.-2L), Jack Bruner (Fr.-HS)

Punt Returner: KJ Miller (Sr.-4L), Jamaal Hamilton (Sr.-1L)

Kick Returner: KJ Miller (Sr.-4L), Jamaal Hamilton (Sr.-1L)

Long/Short Snapper: Adam Strawn (Jr.-1L), Will McClintock (So.-TR)

Holder: Tommy Bowden (Sr.-3L)

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