BELTON — With 15 days to go before the season opener, Mary Hardin-Baylor needs to fix its offensive scheme, its offensive line or both.
Friday night’s 17-all tie with Mexican school Monterrey Tech is proof of that.
UMHB, which enters the season ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division III, showed during the four-quarter, live-action scrimmage at Crusader Stadium just how much is left to be done before kicking off its 21st campaign Sept. 8 against Albright in Reading, Pa.
The battle between junior transfers Luke Poorman and Jase Hammack for the starting quarterback’s job was tough to gauge because neither player had time to operate behind a revamped offensive line that struggled all night long.
Poorman was 7-of-9 for 150 yards and two touchdowns — all in the first half — hooking up with Jonel Reed for a 45-yard score on the scrimmage’s third play and making a short toss that T.J. Josey turned into a 33-yard TD early in the second quarter to give UMHB a 17-10 lead that stood at halftime.
Hammack went 8-of-13 for 71 yards, with his best drive ending when the Crusaders turned it over on downs at the Monterrey Tech 17-yard line. An interception by senior safety Raylon Hickey set up UMHB at the Tech 40 midway through the opening period, but Hammack and the Crusaders had to settle for Nicholas Medina’s 39-yard field goal.
Tech scored its first-half points on a short TD run — set up by a 47-yard pass when the UMHB secondary busted a coverage assignment — and a 43-yard field goal. Tech had another scoring opportunity thwarted by sophomore reserve safety Jayden Smith’s interception at the UMHB 1 with just 13 seconds to go before halftime.
Tech pulled even with another short scoring run with 4:57 left in the third quarter, and UMHB’s offense continually sputtered in the second half — and much of the first — behind a line that couldn’t open holes for running backs or give its quarterbacks time to throw.
Poorman fumbled twice while getting sacked, and all four Crusaders quarterbacks who saw action — Poorman, Hammack, Will Chaney and Michael Dearman — were under constant duress from the moment the ball was snapped.
UMHB is rebuilding its offensive line. Of the five players who started for that unit in last year’s national championship game, the only returner is Colton Hall, and he has changed positions from center to tackle.
The Crusaders, last year’s runners-up and the 2016 national champions, will have two weeks of practice and an intrasquad scrimmage to get things figured out.