Division-III Football Playoffs: Round 2 Preview: Mary Hardin-Baylor vs. Linfield
Match-Up: On Saturday at 1 P.M. Eastern Time the Mary Hardin-Baylor University Crusaders will play host to the Linfield College Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Division-III Football playoffs. Both teams were ranked in the final regular season D3Football poll, with Linfield ranked No. 10 and Mary Hardin-Baylor No. 2.
How They Got Here:
The Wildcats put up 28 first quarter points, on their way to a 55-24 victory. Two early rushing touchdowns put Linfield up 14-0, and then Jordan Giza had a 63-yard punt return for a score to make it 21-0.
The Wildcats got an outstanding outing out of quarterback Sam Riddle who threw for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. The QB also had 62 yards rushing and a touchdown. Spencer Payne had 86 yards rushing and a touchdown and Tavon Willis added 75 more yards.
The Crusaders were trailing 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored Texas Lutheran 20-10 over the final three quarters to win 27-20. MHBU was outplayed for the most part, posting just 10 first downs, and holding onto the ball for only 11:38, but they still came away with the win.
QB Zach Anderson passed for 166 yards on 6-12 passing with a touchdown. He also rushed for 54 yards. Wykeyke Walker had only one catch, but it went for 73-yards and a touchdown.
This game was delayed at one point for over six hours due to a lightning storm.
Despite the poor performance, this is a team with great skill on both sides of the ball. The Crusaders are averaging 54.6 points per game while only giving up 15.0. Their defense has come up with 26 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries, with 35 sacks. Eric Allen is the leader of this defense with 67 tackles, 3 interceptions and 23 pass defenses/breakups. Kris Brown leads the team with 5 interceptions and Teidrick Smith recorded 9 sacks.
QB Zach Anderson has passed for 2313 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has posted an outstanding 170.2 passer rating and has a completion rating of 65 percent. Duane Thompson has only ran for 650 yards but he has 16 TDs and an impressive 5.3 yards per carry average.
The Wildcats have averaged 49.6 points per game, while allowing just 11.6 points per game. They have rushed for 2246 yards and only allowed 823 yards. They are a dominant team in many ways. They have also recorded an amazing 42 sacks.
On the ground the Wildcats are led by a committee of running backs where five have gained at least 293 yards this season. QB Sam Riddle has 347 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns and has passed for 2097 yards and 26 scores. He has also been outstanding with his accuracy, posting a 64.2 percent completion rate and a 175.6 passer efficiency. Spencer Payne gained 393 yards and 4 TDs on the ground.
At the receiver position Charlie Poppen was easily the team leader in receptions. He has 54 catches for 869 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even Peterson has 7 TDs.
Mary Hardin-Baylor has looked so good all season long, but there is no doubt that Texas Luthern found some cracks in their armor that Linfield is destined to try to exploit. While it was not a great performance, the important point is that they showed when they are grossly outplayed that they can still win. Linfield looked very good last weekend, and continues to prove that they are a serious challenger to make the final four. Call me crazy, but I am on the Wildcats bandwagon. Take Linfield 28-24.
By Robert Pannier