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Four days before their teams square off to decide the NCAA Division III national championship, head coaches Pete Fredenburg of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Vince Kehres of Mount Union were busy Monday breaking down film of recent games as well as taking another look at last year’s title game.

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BELTON — One winning streak stayed intact and another came to a halt at Mayborn Camus Center on Saturday night, when the Mary Hardin-Baylor women cruised past overmatched LeTourneau for an 80-48 victory before the Crusaders suffered their first defeat in an 87-82 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

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BELTON — All was good for Mary Hardin-Baylor on Thursday night inside Mayborn Campus Center, where the Crusaders fought past East Texas Baptist for a 98-95 victory win after the 25th-ranked Lady Crusaders put away the ninth-ranked Lady Tigers 87-74 in a pair of American Southwest Conference openers.

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BELTON — As the safeties on a Mary Hardin-Baylor defense that ranks No. 1 in NCAA Division III against the pass, senior Raylon Hickey and sophomore Jefferson Fritz have had things go their way this season. Fritz leads the country with eight interceptions, Hickey is second on the team with 57 tackles to go with two picks, and opponents average only 112 yards passing per game against the Crusaders.

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BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor showed its quickness and athleticism in transition, its shooting ability from all over the floor and its defensive prowess. In fact, there weren’t many skills the Crusaders didn’t flash in their home opener.

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BELTON — It was late in the third quarter and the outcome had long been decided when one play occurred that epitomized the game. Mary Hardin-Baylor quarterback Ryan Redding — a freshman call-up from the junior varsity squad — ran 52 yards through the heart of the Berry defense on his first varsity snap.

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BELTON — It’s a blueblood versus an upstart, an established national power against a program on the rise.

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BELTON — For all of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s hand-wringing over its first-round playoff matchup with conference foe Hardin-Simmons, the Crusaders now believe that last week’s victory over the Cowboys was the best thing that could have happened to them.

Hindsight always tends to be 20/20.

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BELTON — An offense that sputtered along for most of the day and a defense that gave up more yards rushing than it had in any game this season were of little consequence for Mary Hardin-Baylor.

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BELTON — Reggie Cole has done some of just about everything there is to do on the football field. There were days as a running back and quarterback on youth teams, high school seasons as a wide receiver and safety, then stints as a receiver, linebacker and now cornerback for Mary Hardin-Baylor.

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MARSHALL — The competitive matchup some people envisioned never materialized, turning instead into a chippy, penalty-laden affair. Still, though, No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor did enough things well enough to feel good moving forward.

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BELTON — Forgive Anthony Avila if he charges down the field on a kickoff in an attempt to make the tackle. He still has a linebacker’s mentality, even in his role as kicker for Mary Hardin-Baylor.

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BELTON — Hopes are high for the Mary Hardin-Baylor basketball programs entering the new season, which begins tonight when the Crusaders travel to face Schreiner.

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BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor is sticking with the routine it has followed all season: find the flaws from the previous game, fix them and move forward.

With only two games remaining in the regular season, though, it’s also time to broach the subject of the playoffs as the Crusaders aim to make a run to the NCAA Division III national championship game for a third straight year.

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BELTON — Aaron Sims had gone three years without playing in a football game before stepping on the field for Mary Hardin-Baylor’s season opener last month. Not that it was noticeable that day in Pennsylvania, where he caught a pass along the line of scrimmage and outran everybody for 71 yards on his way to the end zone.

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BELTON — Seven weeks into a regular season that has been a series of blowout victories, one of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s top concerns is complacency.

With three games remaining before the NCAA Division III playoffs begin, now is not the time for the second-ranked Crusaders (7-0, 6-0 American Southwest Conference) to take their foot off the gas.

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BELHAVEN, Miss. — In what is starting to become a weekly occurrence, the Mary Hardin-Baylor defense surrendered next to nothing, and the Crusaders got two big plays from their special teams en route to another blowout — this time a 49-0 whitewashing of Belhaven on Saturday afternoon.

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BELTON — Like the temperatures falling and the leaves turning color, Mary Hardin-Baylor producing one of the best defenses in NCAA Division III has become an annual rite of fall.

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BROWNWOOD — Even though it has been 165 minutes and 23 seconds since Mary Hardin-Baylor has surrendered a point, Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg isn’t ready to say that this might be one of the program’s stingiest defenses.

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BELTON — Four blowout victories to start the season had proven only that Mary Hardin-Baylor could steamroll overmatched programs. But this fifth game — the annual grudge match with rival Hardin-Simmons — showed that the Crusaders could beat a quality opponent, even amid a myriad of mistakes.

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