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What looked to be a shoot-out Saturday night became a blowout when Hardin-Simmons' Cowboys shot themselves in the foot.
A 74-yard touchdown pass from Gaylon Glynn to Kevi Evans, their second big play of the game, put No. 6 HSU up 20-16. But that's when HSU began misfiring, as No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor scored the next 34 points on its way to 50-20 rout in this American Southwest Conference and NCAA Division III showdown.
It's the ninth-straight win for the Crusaders in the series, and one of the most lopsided. UMHB now has won 22 of 28 games between the teams.
HSU's was up with 4:36 left in the half, but the Cru scored three times to take a commanding 36-20 halftime lead. And UMHB got the ball to start the second half and went 85 yards in 12 plays to all but put the game away. The opening drive took 6:48 off the clock, leaving HSU with little time to rally.
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The Cowboys went 3-and-out on their first possession, signaling this was a night that a rally wasn't going to happen.
First-half mistakes and Mary Hardin-Baylor's dominance on both the offensive and defensive lines factored into the outcome. Cru quarterback Kyle King had plenty of time to pick apart HSU's secondary, and with the running back contributing yards, it was hard to get the UMHB offense off the field..
King was sacked for the first time early in the fourth quarter.
In the first half HSU:
- Committed four turnovers - three fumbles lost and an interception that set up a field goal.
- Missed a PAT kick.
- Was called for holding on what was a third long touchdown pass from Glynn to Evans.
- Missed a late 41-yard field goal attempt that might have given HSU some momentum going into halftime, down 13 instead of 16. The football struck the right upright.
You just knew what Hardin-Simmons coach Jesse Burleson was going to say after the game.
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"Turnovers absolutely killed us," he said. "Anytime you do that against a good team, you put yourself in a heck of a hole and that's exactly what we did. You can't do that stuff."
HSU had one turnover, an interception, in its two opening wins.
It's very uncharacteristic of us," Burleson said. 'We've got to figure out why that happened and get that fixed."
The Cowboys rode out of the gate fast.
It took just three plays after a long Jalen Crawford kickoff return for the Cowboys to scored. Former Cooper running back Noah Garcia, who sat out last week's game, gained the final 45 yards on three carries, scoring on a 12-yard run with just 1:20 off the clock.
But HSU missed the extra point.
UMHB got a field goal on its second possession, and then came the first turnover. Braegan Berry intercepted a crossfield pass by Glynn and returned it to the HSU 4. The Cowboys defense rose up a second time to keep it the Cru to a field goal.
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The Cowboys took the lead again on a 43-yard pass from Glynn to a wide-open Evans but the Cru countered with a 44-yard pass from King to Jerry Day.
It appeared that HSU struck again with Glynn to Evans, but the 75-yard touchdown play was nullified by a holding call. Two plays later, Garcia fumbled and Mary Hardin-Baylor, even backed up by two 15-yard penalties issued together after the play, marched to the Cowboys 6 before settling for a field goal.
It took HSU two plays to regain the lead as Glynn went 74 to Evans.
Answering again, K.J. Miller returned the kickoff from his 12 to the Hardin-Simmons 3 and King passed to Brandon Jordan for the touchdown.
The extra point was blocked, and Cowboys fans hoped that leveled things. It did not.
Garcia fumbled again on the first play after the kickoff and Johnny Smith-Rider scooped it for a 20-yard return to make it 29-20.
It was Glynn who fumbled on HSU's next possession at his 34, and Durand Hill took it to the end zone.
That was three Crusaders touchdowns in 46 seconds.
"We got a couple of strips and we settled in," said Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Larry Harmon, his team taking some good shot from HSU for a quarter and a half.
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HSU badly needed a score before halftime but missed the field goal. It felt like the game was over, more so after the Crusaders scored to open the second half.
First downs were hard to come by in the second half for HSU, which recorded two.
Harmon said both teams have great lines "but our offensive line are the same five that won the national championship last year, so we have the potential to be really, really physical up front. Our offensive line knew their defensive line is real physical, so it was going to be whoever stepped up to the plate tonight.
"They took the challenge and I think that is where the game was won and lost."
That result allowed King to pass downfield and for the Cru to be successful running the ball as well.
Harmon said a difference in the game may have been his team playing two better teams to open the season, and losing to Wisconsin-Whitewater on the road with a chance to win late in the game.
"We play Muhlenberg and Whitewater and they play Wayland Baptist and Platteville ... Platteville is not Whitewater," he said. "I don't think people understand how hard it is to go to Whitewater and beat Whitewater. I'm telling you, that game is going to come back and help us."
Was the jump in competition, taking on the defending national champion this early in the season, too much for HSU?
To that Burleson said, "I would love to have the opportunity to do those things. We played who we got. We're trying," he said. "Too big of a jump? I don't think so. Before we hand the ball to them - and they knocked it loose - it was pretty damn competitive."
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Shootout becomes a blowout: Mary Hardin-Baylor routs mistake-prone Hardin-Simmons
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