Photo: Isaac Phe looks to throw vs Sul Ross State. On Saturday at Austin College, he tossed four touchdown passes, including three to Christopher Gacayan in a 49-14 win (Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com)
SHERMAN, Texas–For the third straight week, UMHB’s defense recorded a pick-six, intercepting a pass and scoring on the same play, as The Cru defeated Austin College 49-14 on Saturday afternoon. UMHB is now 4-3 overall and 3-0 in American Southwest Conference play.
Against Texas Lutheran, it was Durand Hill with a pick-six. In last week’s 37-13 win over Sul Ross State, Johnny Smith-Rider took an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. On Saturday at Austin College, Trashawn Adams stepped in front of a pass from ‘Roos quarterback Jaylon Talton at midfield, and sprinted, untouched, 50 yards in the other direction for a score.
Adams’ interception came at the perfect time, as the game remained in question midway through the second quarter. Austin College scored 10 seconds into the contest on UMHB’s fumbled opening kickoff, but a pair of touchdown passes from Isaac Phe to Christopher Gacayan on the next two Crusader drives gave UMHB a 14-7 lead.
With The Cru still holding a seven-point advantage into the second quarter, the ‘Roos marched into UMHB territory on consecutive possessions.
They got as far as the UMHB 13-yard line late in the opening quarter, converting a fourth down pass along the way. But facing another fourth down, just 13 yards away from the end zone–and a tied score–Talton took the snap and slipped, resulting in a turnover on downs.
On the second drive that crossed past midfield, Talton was sacked by UMHB’s Dillan Botts on another key fourth down. But in both cases, the Crusaders followed the fourth-down stops with punts of their own, as the ‘Roo defense kept the margin at just seven points.
But Adams’ interception broke the cycle, as UMHB gained a 21-7 lead. The visitors from Belton gained much-needed momentum and the Crusader offense followed with a seven-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Touchdowns from Ozias Wright and Gacayan capped the first half with a 35-7 UMHB lead.
The Crusaders were well on their way to victory.
Though Austin College scored once in the fourth quarter, UMHB largely had its way through the final two quarters. The defense came up with another interception, this one by Dorian Williams, and forced a fumble deep in Austin College territory after Michael Putney drove Talton backwards on a quarterback run. The ‘Roos were held to just nine first downs, converted on just one third-down play, and Talton was sacked four times.
Phe had an efficient day at quarterback for The Cru, with 20 completions on 25 passing attempts, as he threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns were caught by Gacayan, the freshman tight end from Axtell, Texas, who had a career-high 76 receiving yards on six receptions.
Romello Cook also stepped up in the passing game with a season-high five catches for 79 yards. Entering Saturday’s contest, the senior had just four receptions in three games this season. But he came up with a number of big catches, including a 24-yard touchdown on a well-placed throw by Jackson Tingler that made it 49-7 with four minutes left in the third.
The win sets up a battle between the American Southwest Conference’s two title contenders next week in Abilene as UMHB (4-3) faces Hardin-Simmons (6-1). With Howard Payne’s 45-21 loss to McMurry on Saturday, the Crusaders and Cowboys are the two leading contenders for the conference title with just three weeks left in the regular season.