BELTON — Darius Wilson put on a performance.
The University of Mary-Hardin Baylor running back’s opening act occurred in the first quarter, and he delivered an encore in the third, scoring a pair of touchdowns in each period. The senior finished with a game-high 167 rushing yards and added 40 receiving yards, leading the Crusaders to a 34-7 victory against Kean University.
And after the game, Wilson felt he shortchanged his audience.
“I felt like I could have done a lot better,” he said. “There is definitely room to improve.
“They took me out early. I was shooting for 200 (rushing yards).”
Wilson ended his night on a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:47 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Cru a 34-0 lead in their season-opener.
The Cougars scored their only points on the ensuing kickoff, but the damage was already done.
The Crusaders’ needed less than four minutes to score their first points of the season as quarterback LiDarral Bailey found Wilson for a 15-yard touchdown.
Six minutes later, the Crusaders were in the end zone again, producing their only points of the game not involving Wilson. Bailey capped off a 12-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Caleb Moore.
Then Wilson reclaimed his leading role.
After the Cougars turned the ball over on downs at the UMHB 33-yard line, the Cru extended its run to 21 unanswered points, needing just two plays to score as Wilson broke free down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.
By the end of the quarter, the Cru accumulated 180 yards on 21 plays, including a 6-for-6 passing performance from Bailey and Wilson’s 121 total yards.
“(Jumping out to a big lead) was really important,” UMHB head coach Pete Fredenburg said. “Our guys were ready to go. They were excited and played hard, and, not to take anything away from Kean, they are a team that we felt we had the better team speed.”
The Cru’s offense slowed down in the second period, but it did not affect their lead as the defense continued to hold Kean scoreless, limiting it to just 107 yards in the half while never allowing the Cougars to enter the red zone, and UMHB took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Wilson made up for lost time in the third quarter, however, needing just one snap to go 73 yards for a touchdown, before adding a his final score of the evening on a goal-line carry. And that was all in the first 5:30 of the quarter.
But Wilson gave all the credit to his supporting cast.
“I have to give it up to the guys up front,” Wilson said. “They came out, and they executed. They were flying around, cracking skulls, and it was great to see.
“I wish people would understand that they are the key to starting this offense.”
Bailey also thrived behind the offensive line, completing 20 of 24 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He added 44 rushing yards on 14 carries.
On opening night, though, it was Wilson who stole the show.
“The guy that has to go up in the middle like that has really got to put some pressure on the defense,” Fredenburg said. “To see it happen tonight was really, really special, and Darius is a very capable player, and, obviously, that was exciting to see.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org