Division-III Football Playoffs: Mary Hardin-Baylor University vs. Texas Lutheran University
Match-up: On Saturday at 1 PM Eastern Time the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs (Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, 9-1, 3-0) will travel to Belton, TX to play the Mary Hardin-Baylor University Crusaders (American Southwest Conference, 10-0, 5-0) in the first round of the Division-III Football playoffs. Both teams are ranked in the latest D3Football top 25 poll, with the Crusaders coming in at third with four first-place votes and the Bulldogs reaching No. 24.
Coaches: Danny Padron is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs. Six seasons ago the Bulldogs were 0-10. Coach Padron took over the following season, and after hovering around .500 for three years, he has taken the team to heights they have not seen since the mid-70s. Texas Lutheran is 26-3 over the last three seasons, and this will be their first trip to the post-season with him at the helm.
Seventeen seasons ago Mary Hardin-Baylor University decided they wanted a football program. Pete Fredenburg became their head coach and he has been there ever since. Now in his 17th season, Coach Fredenburg has turned this program into one of the elite ones in all of Division-III football. The Crusaders coach has a ridiculous record of 169-36 and will be making his 13th appearance in the post-season. He has led one team to the title game, and four others to the semifinals.
Sophomore Marquis Barrolle leads the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs and is third in the country in rushing with 1568. It is scary how good the sophomore could be a year or two from now. Barrolle added 14 touchdowns and 6.3 yards per carry. As impressive as his numbers are, his backups added nearly 1000 yards between them. A.J. Saucedo rushed for 495 yards and 7 touchdowns and Trenton White added 413 more and 7 scores as well.
QB Trenton White is a great talent on his own. The junior threw for 2219 yards and 21 touchdowns, and had a solid 61.8 completion percentage. He is extremely smart about how he attacks defenses and is also careful, throwing 7 interceptions in 314 attempts.
Four receivers caught at least 30 passes, led by Caleb Oliver who had 35 catches for 544 yards and a team leading 10 touchdowns. Barrolle made 34 catches for 236 yards, J.B. Brown 31 for 310 yards and Lewis Williams made 30 catches for 392 yards and 3 TDs.
Defensive backs Drake Dowling and Michael Wall lead the Bulldogs defense. Wall leads the team with 79 tackles and an interception. Dowling added 75 tackles and 5 interceptions. The two read plays well, and Dowling is just relentless. Linebacker Darian Candler is third on the team in tackles and leads the country in sacks with 20. He is tough to contain and must be accounted for on every play or he will disrupt any scheme.
The Texas Lutheran defense has 33 sacks in the regular season, 13 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries.
Junior Zach Anderson leads the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders offense with 2047 yards passing and 17 touchdowns. His 167.4 passer rating is 14th in the country, and had an outstanding 65.9 completion percentage.
The Crusaders are not a big running team, but they do have quality backs in Duane Thompson and Michael Carpenter. Thompson led the team with 621 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. He posted a 5.5 yards per carry average. Carpenter also had an outstanding 5.4 yards per carry average, and gained 463 yards with 6 touchdowns.
There were five different players that has at least 12 receptions, but the two main targets are Marcus Wimby and Kamray Runnels. Wimby has 45 catches for 457 yards and 2 touchdowns. Runnels led the team with 8 touchdown receptions and 711 yards on 40 receptions. The senior has an unbelievable 17.8 yards per catch average. Runnels is also an outstanding punt returner, averaging 17.8 yards per return with 2 touchdowns.
Two defensive backs lead the team and are unbelievable ball hawks. Eric Allen leads the team with 52 tackles, has 3 interceptions and 21 pass defenses/breakups. Brown is third with 46 tackles and leads the team with 4 interceptions, plus he has 26 pass breakups/defenses. Baylor Mullins has 3 interceptions as well.
The Crusaders defense is a solid one with 34 sacks, 24 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. They read pass plays so well and they get great pressure up front. Teidrick Smith led the team with 9 sacks.
Texas Lutheran: 502.6 yards per game. 42.6 points per game
Mary Hardin-Baylor: 503.8 yards per game, 57.4 points per game
Texas Lutheran: 413.4 yards per game, 29.5 points allowed per game
Mary Hardin-Baylor: 297.3 yards per game, 14.5 points allowed per game
Outlook: The battle of Texas should be an exciting one. Weather should play no role, so both teams can open up their playbooks. The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs have an absolutely awesome offense, and it will be interesting to see what the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders can do against them. While the Crusaders have the defense that can make a difference in this game, the Bulldogs are a little short in this area. Take the Crusaders, 47-31.
By Robert Pannier