By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - After LiDarral Bailey accounted for 138 of Mary Hardin-Baylor's 147 passing yards against Wisconsin-La Crosse, Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg said he wanted more.
In its American Southwest Conference-opening 43-31 win at McMurry on Saturday, he got much, much less as Bailey completed just 2 of 15 passes for 25 yards and an interception, making the Cru's passing game a serious concern for Fredenburg.
"That's a real problem that we're addressing and we're going to be better from this week ... I just think that LiDarral has got to develop some confidence in his ability to throw," Fredenburg said at a news conference Monday. "He's got a strong arm, he's very accurate, he just tenses up sometimes."
Bailey, a sophomore, was named the starter last week after leading the fifth-ranked Cru (2-0, 1-0 ASC) to their largest comeback in team history against La Crosse.
Senior quarterback Kyle Noack, who started eight of 12 games last season, is still nursing a knee injury.
Fredenburg said Bailey will remain the starter for UMHB's home-opener Saturday night against eighth-ranked Hardin-Simmons (3-0, 1-0).
"We've got to get the ball to those receivers," he said. "We're a run team but we also pride ourselves on being able to throw and, with the receivers that we've got, we're going to have the ability to throw.
"... This week of preparation will be important for (Bailey) and it will be important for our football team. I just think he has to fight through this. I think he's the most talented, he's just got to move this football team."
Special teams live up to name
McMurry (2-1, 0-1) outgained UMHB's offense 512-240, but the Cru special teams made up the difference with two touchdowns, a safety and three blocked kicks.
Chad Cannon recovered McMurry's opening kickoff fumble in the endzone for a touchdown and Darius Wilson's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter reclaimed the Cru's lead for good after McMurry rallied to take a 25-22 advantage. Micah Spencer blocked a field goal and a point-after attempt.
"On the field goals and extra points, we really addressed that hard this week simply because we didn't do a very good job against Wisconsin," Fredenburg said. "We've always prided ourselves in our ability to block field goals and I just think it always gives you an opportunity to turn the tide when people attempt field goals."
Another comeback made
McMurry's lead lasted just 25 seconds but it was nearly 30 minutes, between the second and third quarters, in the making.
Mary Hardin-Baylor led 22-0 at the end of the first quarter, but didn't score again until Wilson's 90-yard kickoff return with 2:06 left in the third. In between, McMurry put up 360 yards and 25 unanswered points.
Beginning with Wilson's return, the Cru scored 21 of the final 27 points. Against La Crosse, UMHB scored the final 24 points to rally from a 19-0 deficit.
"We're tickled to be 2-0 but we've got to address some situations," Fredenburg said. "You go down 19-0 for a reason and you'll let people score on you that many times for a reason, so we've got issues that we've got to deal with and, trust me, we will."
Cru host rival HSU in home opener
One of the ASC's two unbeaten teams will have its record blemished after Saturday night's 6 p.m. game between UMHB and Hardin-Simmons at Belton's Tiger Field.
The Cru have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two rivals, but the two have never played a night game and the Week 3 matchup is the earliest they've ever met. The Cowboys last beat UMHB, 49-44, at Tiger Field in 2004.
"They bring out a bunch of emotion in all of us," Fredenburg said. "They're very good. Obviously, they're very well coached and they have a great program and they just do their typical stuff.
"They balance out pretty good and, of course, having (quarterback Justin) Feaster back and (ZaVious) Robbins, the receiver, they really add a lot to their football team."
Hardin-Simmons, which beat Mississippi College 45-10 last week, UMHB and Texas Lutheran and Sul Ross State are the only teams that opened their ASC seasons last week with a win. Louisiana College opens its conference schedule Saturday against Mississippi College.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.