By Princess McDowell
Killen Daily Herald
BELTON – Mary-Hardin Baylor enters today's season finale against Howard Payne looking ahead to the postseason, but not too far.
UMBH won its third consecutive American Southwest Conference championship with last Saturday's 72-7 trouncing of East Texas Baptist and solidified another postseason berth. More than likely, the team will face Trinity in the first round.
But that game is at least a week away and UMHB head coach Pete Fredenburg said it is "critical that we win and feel good about how we play against HPU" heading into the playoffs.
Fredenburg said the team can't take any opponent for granted, especially Howard Payne. The Yellow Jackets came back from a 17-10 deficit to win 2005's meeting – UMHB's last trip to Brownwood.
"They did it with less than a minute to go," he said.
Even though Howard Payne is just 1-8 on the season, the Yellow Jackets have stayed competitive in every game. Only two games could be considered blowouts: an opening day 42-14 loss to Southern Nazarene and Saturday's 31-10 loss to Mississippi College. Six of the losses were by a touchdown or less.
Three of the losses came in overtime, including a double-overtime defeat by Sul Ross State.
"They cause everyone some problems," Fredenburg said. "Their problem is stopping people."
The Yellow Jackets have not held an opponent under 20 points this season and have given up 40 or more points in five games.
The Howard Payne offense has answered, averaging 37.7 points and 402 yards of offense a game.
Like many of the conference teams, Howard Payne likes to do its dirty work through the air. The Yellow Jackets average more than 300 passing yards a game. Quarterback Jason Lovvorn has put up consistent numbers since becoming the team's starter in week 3. The junior has nearly 2,000 yards and just eight interceptions.
Fredenburg said Lovvorn has a very quick release. He said teams can hit him, but the ball may already be gone.
Passing offenses have done well against the Cru this season. Mississippi College had the most success, throwing for more than 520 yards in the 69-30 loss.
The defense, however, has an ASC-high 21 interceptions, led by defensive back Derrick Williams' four picks.
"We've got to play well and keep the ball away from the offense," he said.
Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium in Brownwood.
Contact Princess McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7655.