BELTON — Winning makes mistakes much easier to deal with.
Despite being ranked No. 2 in both major Division III polls, Mary Hardin-Baylor head coach Pete Fredenburg knows his offense is far from perfect. Against Louisiana College, the Crusaders proved as much in the first half, scoring their only points on a blocked field goal returned 95 yards for a touchdown by Javicz Jones. None of the team’s drives covered more than 50 yards, and the Crusaders never reached the red zone.
Mary Hardin-Baylor dominated the second half, however, en route to a 30-3 win, keeping the Crusaders undefeated through the first six games of the season.
With the victory secured, Fredenburg was able to joke about kicker Chad Peevey’s pair of missed field goals prior to halftime.
“I told Peevey it is a good thing we don’t give scholarships here,” Fredenburg said, “because he would have lost it after the first half.
“I coached defensive tackles for years, handling a defensive tackle is a whole lot different than handling a kicker, but I do the same regardless.
“So, I told my coaches ‘Y’all need to keep me away from Peevey and let him have some relief.’”
To his credit, Peevey, a junior from Bryan, made his lone field goal, a 31-yard attempt, in the second half. Nevertheless, the turnaround from both Peevey and the rest of the offense in the second half illustrates why Fredenburg believes his team still has some growing to do.
“We’ve approached the whole season as a process,” the coach said. “We are not going to be a finished product until the last game.”
Hard to believe an offense averaging 45 points and 532.5 yards of total offense per game can have room for improvement, but Fredenburg thinks that is the case.
But there is no doubt about the abilities of his offensive playmakers.
Quarterback LiDarral Bailey completed 17 of 22 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns against Louisiana College, extending his current streak to three games with at least 200 yards passing. He is just the second quarterback in school history to achieve the feat, joining Cody Fredenburg (2003).
Bailey’s favorite target continues to be senior Geoff Myles, who posted his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game Saturday, making six receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Myles has topped the 100-yard plateau three times, becoming just the eighth player in team history with three such games in a season.
The Crusaders’ ground game also got a boost over the weekend as running back Darius Wilson played for the first time since suffering a leg injury against Wesley College in mid-September. It did not take long for the senior to get in rhythm as he rushed for a game-high 113 yards despite continuing to struggle with the injury.
“I don’t think he is 100 percent,” Fredenburg said. “He fought through it as best he could, but I really wish we could just rest him because I think it is going to continue to be an issue.”
Injured or not, Wilson’s presence on the field only serves to improve an already deep stable of running backs. In the three games without Wilson, among others, freshman Michael Carpenter and junior Elijah Hudson, filled the role admirably, combining for 499 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Mary Hardin-Baylor will need all aspects of its game to be on point Saturday, when it hosts conference foe Hardin-Simmons. One of the two teams will receive its first loss in American Southwest Conference play as both enter the game with unblemished records through three games.
The Cowboys (4-2 overall) possess an offense similar to the Crusaders, at least statistically. Hardin Simmons is averaging 42.5 points and 478.5 total yards of offense per game, with quarterback Logan Turner (1,878 passing yards and 19 touchdowns) accounting for a majority of the production. And the team’s defense has improved, allowing a total of 32 points through three conference games after giving up 90 in its first three games of the season.
“They’ve got everything rolling right now,” Fredenburg said. “They are playing with a lot of confidence, and I think, on both sides of the ball, they are very well coached. Then you add just the emotion of this game into the equation, and this will be a big test for us.”
Jones lands conference honor
Jones was named ASC special teams player of the week, the conference announced Monday.
In addition to the blocked field goal return, Jones, a senior from Morton Ranch High School in Katy, added five tackles and an interception from his linebacker position to spearhead a unit that kept Louisiana College’s offense out of the end zone.