BELTON Called a work in progress all season, the Mary Hardin-Baylor offense could be worked over again.
After gaining a season-low 267 yards in the Cru's 35-12 win at Mississippi College on Saturday, head coach Pete Fredenburg said Monday the offense he switched from the power-I to the pistol in the offseason will be the team's focus in preparation for this weekend's non-conference game against Southern Oregon. "I think it's really important just because of the meltdown I think we had against Mississippi (College). I think our offense really took a step backwards against Mississippi," Fredenburg said. "This gives us an opportunity to really address some things and I think, obviously, this ball game, by saying that, this ball game plays a real important role."
Fourth-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor (5-0, 4-0 American Southwest Conference) had just 39 yards and 14 points in the second half and was bailed out by a pair of special teams touchdowns and its defense. The Cru allowed the Choctaws offense 360 yards but also forced four turnovers.
Darius Wilson had 138 yards on 23 carries. LiDarral Bailey had 60 yards and both of the Cru's offensive touchdowns on 11 carries but completed just five of his 14 pass attempts for 55 yards and an interception. It was the offense's worst day since a 239-yard performance in last season's 19-9 loss to Wesley College in the NCAA quarterfinals.
"We've readjusted and kind of reshuffled our personnel. I think you'll see us in some different formations," Fredenburg said. "We're going to stay with the same offensive style that we have built our program on. The great thing about the pistol is it relates so easily with I-formation."
Junior Geoff Myles had a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, the third of his career, and senior linebacker Javicz Jones led a defense that more than made up for Mary Hardin-Baylor's lackluster offensive performance.
Jones had two interceptions and a blocked punt to go along with 11 tackles for the Cru defense. Jones' first interception set up Bailey's 1-yard touchdown run that gave Mary Hardin-Baylor a 21-10 lead at halftime. Elijah Hudson recovered Jones' blocked punt in the end zone, giving the Cru a 28-12 lead in the fourth.
Korey Steward returned Silvio Diaz's forced fumble 52 yards for the final margin with just under three minutes left in the game.
The Raiders have won three straight, including back-to-back wins over ranked opponents the last two weeks, since starting the season 0-3.
After snapping its season-opening losing streak with a 15-10 win over Webber International (Fla.), Southern Oregon (3-3) started its own winning streak with a 31-17 upset of then-24th-ranked Menlo College (Calif.) on Oct. 1 and followed that with a 46-34 win over then-7th-ranked Eastern Oregon on Saturday.
"They're doing a really nice job. They're very well- coached and I think they've brought in a lot of junior college kids, especially from California, and helped themselves a lot," Fredenburg said. "I really am impressed with what they're doing on both sides of the ball."
The Raiders, who lost to UMHB 31-10 last season, have averaged almost 336 yards a game in their three wins, but also turned it over 11 times in the same stretch, including seven Saturday.