Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
The final road contest of the regular season has arrived for the UMHB football team, who is coming off a bye week, and the last undefeated team in ASC play. A win over Howard Payne would clinch the conference title for the Crusaders, and an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.
We bring you everything you need to know, in one central location, with a concise format, prior to kickoff in Brownwood between two of the ASC’s top teams.
This article is presented by True To The Cru gold sponsor The Best of Belton
Setting the Stage
Date/Time: November 5 at 1:00 p.m.
Location: Gordon Wood Stadium, Brownwood, Texas
Follow the action
On the web (livestream): HPUsports.com
On the radio: 93.9 FM/1330 AM
No. 3 UMHB
Head Coach: Larry Harmon
Overall Record: 7-1
ASC Record: 6-0
Notable Win: @ No. 8 Hardin-Simmons, 50-20
Last Time Out: UMHB was on bye last week, but defeated Sul Ross State in Belton the week prior, 45-14, as Kyle King broke the program record for passing touchdowns.
Head Coach: Jason Bachtel
Overall Record: 6-2
ASC Record: 5-1
Notable Win: @ Sul Ross State, 56-42
Last Time Out: HPU turned heads when the Yellow Jackets took a 19-7 halftime lead at No. 8 Hardin-Simmons. But they were shut out in the second half, held to just five first downs, as HSU scored 21 unanswered points and pulled out the win.
The Series in Review
UMHB leads the series 20-2 all-time, and has won the last 14 meetings. The last time the Cru played in Brownwood, in 2018, they came away with a 55-0 win. In last season’s contest in Belton, HPU took an early 14-0 lead, before UMHB scored 59 unanswered points for a 59-14 win.
Scouting the Yellow Jackets
With the ASC’s top passing offense and the fifth-most passing yards per game in the nation (331.1 yds/game), HPU relies heavily on its ability to complete passes and score in large quantities. The Yellow Jackets average 47 points per game, sixth-best in D-III. They have achieved this through a spread offense, with a number of talented receivers and quarterback Landon McKinney.
With that said, the defense has allowed 27,8 points per game, leading to several offensive shootouts. HPU is No. 1 in the ASC in passing offense, but No. 8 in passing defense. The HPU defense is the fourth-best in the ASC against the run, allowing 133 rush yards per game.
Transfer in, make an impact
Both UMHB and HPU have been aided by the presence of transfers this season, on both sides of the ball.
Tight end Will McClintock has two receiving touchdowns for the Cru after transferring in from Missouri Western State (D2), and running back Kenneth Miller Jr., who previously played at Northwestern Oklahoma State, ranks second in rushing yardage, having tallied 314 yards and two scores on 37 carries. Defensive back Diarva Brown, from Tyler JC, has played in seven games, with 11 tackles and an interception.
HPU receiver Jordan Carroll is second on the team in receptions after transferring from Louisiana-Monroe (D1 FBS), with 28 receptions for 593 yards and seven touchdowns. Former North American Univ. running back Javian Myles is second in rushing yards (415) with six touchdowns.
Amongst the nation’s best
Both UMHB and HPU have players whose performances this season have ranked them in the Top 15 of various stat categories across D-III football.
UMHB quarterback Kyle King is eighth nationally in passing efficiency, with a rating of 185.40. He also is No. 11 in points responsible for per game, averaging 21.0. For comparison, HPU’s McKinney ranks No. 17 in that category. Defensively, linebacker Johnny Smith-Rider is tied for the third-most forced fumbles, with four.
HPU’s Otis Lanier is No. 13 in all-purpose yardage (1,217 yds), averaging 152.12 yards per game as HPU’s top receiver and primary kick and punt returner. He is also No. 8 in receiving touchdowns (10) and receiving yardage (813). McKinney, in the spread offense mentioned above, ranks sixth in passing yardage. The junior has thrown for 2,435 yards in eight games this season. Tight end Hunter Cheek’s 25.8 yards per reception ranks sixth.
King and McKinney both are in the Top 15 in passing touchdowns, with King’s 27 the fifth-best mark in the country and McKinney’s 23 tied for 12th.
King’s return to Brownwood
King began his collegiate career at HPU, as a quarterback and punter, in 2018. In his lone year in Brownwood, as a freshman, King averaged 40.54 yards per punt on 37 punts. He also ran the ball 19 times for 61 yards, though he did not attempt a pass.
In his four seasons at UMHB, King has never returned to Gordon Wood Stadium. He has also never faced HPU, as he was injured when the Yellow Jackets came to Belton last year.
UMHB Two-Deep Depth Chart (as provided by 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
Quarterback: Kyle King (Sr.-2L), Jackson Tingler (Jr.-1L),
Running Back: Aphonso Thomas (Sr. 1L), Kenneth Cormier Jr. (Jr.-2L)
Wide Receiver: Jerry Day Jr. (So.-1L), Jamaal Hamilton (Sr.-1L)
Wide Receiver: KJ Miller (Sr.-4L), Jerry Cephus (So,-JV)
Wide Receiver: Brandon Jordan (Sr.-2L), Jawon Richards (Jr.-TR)
Tight End: Connor Mullins (Jr.-2L), Will McClintock (So.-TR)
Left Tackle: Reuel Tandoh (Jr.-2L), Jarryd Doucet (So.TR)
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)
Left Defensive End: Trey Belyeu-Witcher (So.-1L), Dorian Pittman (Fr.-HS)
Left Defensive Tackle: Pete Smith (Sr.-3L), Jose Fuentes (So.-JV)
Right Defensive Tackle: Tristan Green (So.-1L), Mason Cavness (So.-JV)
Right Defensive End: Sante Parker Jr. (Sr.-3L), Myles Terry (Fr.-HS)
Weakside Linebacker: Johnny Smith-Rider (So.-1L), Jaqai Neal (Fr.-HS)
Middle Linebacker: Durand Hill (So.-1L), La’Damian Bailey (So,-JV)
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)
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)