Playing a football game over the Thanksgiving weekend has become a tradition for Mary Hardin-Baylor.  This season will be no different.

For the eighth straight season, the Crusaders will spend the holiday preparing for a second-round game in the NCAA Division III playoffs. And this has a little extra incentive.

UMHB will face long-time American Southwest Conference rival McMurry University at noon today at Tiger Field. McMurry is transitioning to NCAA Division II and will leave the ASC after the year.

The Cru and War Hawks will be meeting in Belton for the second time this season

The two played a 28-27 thriller in the regular season with the Crusaders intercepting a McMurry two-point try in the final minutes to preserve the victory. The Sept. 17 game included a 56-minute weather delay, chippy play throughout and the War Hawks walking off the field without shaking hands after the game.

The Crusaders scored all their points in the first half before staggering offensively and needing that late defensive stop to win.

The playoff game marks the fourth time that UMHB has faced a conference opponent in a rematch in the NCAA postseason. The Cru faced Hardin-Simmons in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 playoffs, winning the rematch in each instance.

UMHB (11-0) is coming off a 34-13 win in the first round over the University of Redlands (Calif.). McMurry (9-2) held off Trinity 25-16 for the program’s first-ever playoff win.

UMHB leads the all-time series between the two teams 11-2, including this season’s regular season win.

UMHB is 5-1 all-time against the newly christened War Hawks at Tiger Field. The Cru’s only home loss to McMurry was a 21-7 defeat in the 1999 meeting.

“We have a lot of respect for what they do as a program,” Crusader head coach Pete Fredenburg said. “We know that we are in for a real challenge Saturday, but this is why you play and coach football, for a chance to be in a game like this. I know our players and coaches are excited and it should be a tremendous football game.”

Saturday’s winner advances to the quarterfinals and faces either Linfield College (Ore.) or Wesley College (Del.). Crusader fans can follow the game through a free video stream and live statistics at the following link:


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