9-1 Hardin-Simmons vs. 9-1 Mary Hardin-Baylor
Noon | Nov. 21, 2015 | Shelton Stadium
Radio: 100.7 FM
Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com
Play-by-play: Al Pickett
Color Commentary: Travis Jones
Hardin-Simmons and Mary Hardin-Baylor will meet for the second time in three weeks and also for the fourth straight time that both teams have made the playoffs. The two teams met in the NCAAs in 2004, 2006 and 2008 with the Cru winning all three of the previous games. The only time the teams played in Abilene was 2004, which was the last time HSU beat the Cru in the regular season. All NCAA playoff games in the first three rounds are at noon local time. HSU snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Cru with a 29-26 on Oct. 31.
On The Air
You can hear Saturday's game on 100.7 in Abilene and on the internet at www.hsuathletics.com. You can also listen on your mobile phone using the HSU Athletics app. Al Pickett will be in his 11th season in the Cowboys' play-by-play chair and 13th overall on the broadcast team. Travis Jones will handle the color commentary. Jones is the last Cowboy quarterback to win a playoff game and that was in the national quarterfinals against Trinity in 2000.
The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the second round and most likely would host the winner of the Hendrix/Huntingdon game. Former Cowboy standout quarterback Jordan Neal is the offensive coordinator at Hendrix.
Last Time Out
Jessie Ramos took the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and the Cowboys never looked back in an 82-21 win over Louisiana College. The Cowboys had 680 yards of total offense and added another 239 yards in kick returns to close the season with a 9-1 regular-season mark.
The Cowboys received a 57-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Breton to Jessie Ramos with 3:12 to play and stopped the Cru on the ensuing possession on a Ryne Lewis sack on fourth down in a 29-26 win. It snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Cru. The teams were in a defensive struggle going into the fourth quarter with the Cowboys leading 14-12. The teams then traded four straight touchdowns before HSU came up with the big stop to end the Cru's chances of a late comeback.
The Cowboys claimed a three-way tie with UMHB and East Texas Baptist for the American Southwest Conference title. All three teams went 4-1 in ASC action. It was the Cowboys first title since 2004 and UMHB extended its run to 11 straight years of at least a share of the title. East Texas Baptist won its second title, and both times the same three times shared the league crown. HSU now has eight ASC titles.
HSU is making its first NCAA appearance since the 2008 season. The Cowboys are 4-6 all-time in the Division III playoffs. HSU's last three trips to the playoffs have been against UMHB. The Cowboys last non-UMHB playoff game was in 2001 when it lost to Wittenberg in overtime in the first round.
In The Polls
HSU comes into the weekend ranked No. 12 in the D3football.com poll and the Cru is ranked No. 13. In the American Football Coaches Association poll, UMHB is ranked No. 10 and HSU is No. 13.
- be the Cowboys first NCAA playoff win since 2000 when it beat Trinity 33-30 in the NCAA quarterfinals. HSU has lost its last six playoff games.
- mark the first time to beat the Cru in the playoffs.
- be the Cowboys first 10-win season since 2004.
- extend the careers of 19 seniors for another week.
Teams are limited to a 58-man roster for the playoffs, which means that players that have played in every game this season will be left off of the final roster for the game. Narrow that list down to 58 players is one of the most difficult things the coaching staff has to do during the week of a playoff game.
Scoring In Other Ways
The Cowboys have nine non-offensive scores this season, including four on interceptions returns. The Cowboys also have a safety giving them 65 points off non-offensive plays this season.
The Cowboys have been an explosive play team all season. The Cowboys have 91 plays on the year over 20 yards, with 54 of those coming in the passing game. No surprise Jessie Ramos leads the way with 34 explosive plays and Reese Childress and Alex Bell also have double digits with 13 and 10, respectively. On the flip side the defense has allowed just 25 explosive plays on the year, only six have come on runs and 19 on passes. HSU has 28 drives this season of five or fewer plays and three times they have scored on the first play.
They Kicked To Him
Senior Jessie Ramos has been itching to get his hands on a deep kickoff all season long and it finally happened Saturday on the opening kickoff. He proceeded to take it 88 yards for the seventh career kickoff return for a touchdown of his career. He also has two punt returns for touchdowns.
The Cowboys rank No. 18 in the nation in total offense at 475.7 yards per outing. The Cowboys have just nine turnovers on the year which ranks seventh nationally. The Cowboys 45.9 points per contest ranks eighth in the nation. HSU ranks 17th with 310.8 passing yards per game. HSU has the best completion percentage, completing 70.8 percent on the year and also rank first in passing efficiency. The Cowboys 10.8 yards per pass is a school record. The 98 touchdowns scored is the fifth-best year and the other four were all deep playoff run seasons.
The Cowboys have their best defensive unit in years. The Cowboys allow just 15.4 points per game. Only the 1998 and 2000 teams allowed fewer points per game. The 34 sacks is the third most in school history. The 12 forced fumbles are the fourth most and only three off the school record. The Cowboys have not allowed more than 27 points in a game this season and four opponents have been held under 10 points.
The Cowboys had 22 players honored on the All-American Southwest Conference teams including Jessie Ramos as the player year, Marshall Agan as the offensive lineman of the year and Nico Francino as the special teams player of the year. Ramos is just the second wide receiver in the history of the league (Jake Allen of Mississippi College in 2007) to be named the offensive MVP. He is the seventh Cowboy and first since Justin Feaster in 2008 to be named the league's offensive top player. Agan is the ninth Cowboy to be named the offensive lineman of the year. Francino is the third Cowboy to be the special teams player of the year.
Junior Ryan Breton took over for injured starter Weston Garner midway through the McMurry game and has continued to lead the most efficient offense in the country. He has completed 93-of-138 passes for 1,516 yards in his six games and has 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also rushed for 158 yards and two scores and that is with 64 yards in losses on sacks, so has shown to be mobile. Breton was getting one or two series per game in the first half of games leading up to the Garner injury. For the year he has thrown for 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also has three rushing touchdowns. In the first UMHB game, he was 18-for-27 for 284 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Jessie Ramos with 3:12 to play.
Freshman Luke Bishop has handled the backup role since Breton took over. He has completed 24-of-29 passes on the year for 307 yards and three touchdowns. He also has rushed for 76 yards and two more scores and has shown the ability to make plays. He has been featured in the "Cowboy" package that the Cowboys have employed.
Garner has been practicing but is not totally healed from his arm injury. He is active on the roster and would be the emergency quarterback for the Cowboys. He had completed 70-of-91 passes for 1,048 yards and nine touchdowns in the first four games and a quarter. He was the most efficient quarterback in the nation when he was injured.
Sloan is the starter and workhorse for the Cowboys. He has four 100-yard rushing efforts on the season and has four games with at least 20 carries. He has 10 100-yard rushing efforts in his career. He rushed for 106 yards against the Cru last year and had 108 and two touchdowns this season. He sealed that game with back-to-back six-yard runs to give the Cowboys the final first down it needed to kneel for the victory. He ranks ninth at HSU with 1,727 yards rushing in just two seasons of action. His 23 career touchdowns rank eighth in HSU history.
Harris has run 67 times this season for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He also has eight catches for 116 yards. His best game was against Wayland Baptist when he had 16 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. He also is very good on special teams and has blocked two punts on the year, one he fell on in the end zone for a touchdown in the opener against Southwestern. He also has returned kicks and plays on the coverage units as well.
Has been a special teams standout for the Cowboys, but also showed some burst last week against Louisiana College with seven carries for 74 yards. He has five special teams tackles on the year.
Is the fourth running back but also plays on several special teams units. Has 10 carries for 21 yards and a touchdown on the season.
In his first season as a starter, Alex Bell has proved to be a productive outside receiving threat. He has 29 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown and returns kickoffs. He also is the Cowboys' emergency kickoff and placekicker.
The dynamic freshman from Abilene High has proved to be one of the top offensive weapons for the Cowboys. He has 20 catches for 414 yards and seven touchdowns. Also has 22 rushes for 182 yards and two more scores, mostly out the Cowboy formation. Had 98 rushing yards at Sul Ross State. Scored a pair of touchdowns and had 115 yards receiving in the opener against Southwestern. Had the game-winning 11-yard touchdown catch with :25 to play at Texas Lutheran. Had 150 yards and a touchdown receiving against McMurry.
Another freshman that played most of the year on the developmental squad, but has a big future. Had three catches for 32 yards in the season finale over Louisiana College.
Martin has been productive in his first season as the starter at slot back. He has 24 catches for 270 yards and has shown the ability to make tough catches in traffic. He has two touchdowns. He caught five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in the win over McMurry. Has made his mark on special teams as well. Had a blocked punt against Wayland Baptist. Martin's dad Clay played baseball at Hardin-Simmons and his mother Laurie is also an HSU grad.
• Ramos has had one of the top seasons in HSU history for a WR.
• His 1,443 yards ranks second all-time to Kirk Rogers' 1,528 yards in 1999.
• His 75 catches are the ninth most by an HSU receiver and the most by a player that did not play primarily in the slot.
• His 16 touchdown catches are the second most in school history to Rogers' 18 in 1999.
• His 1,892 all-purpose yards are the most in a season by a Cowboys, surpassing the old record of 1,760 yards by Tommy Cupil.
• His 116 points scored this season is the fourth-most in a season and the most by a wide receiver.
• He has 330 punt return yards this season, which is the second-most behind Barry Donham's 417 in 2000. He is the first Cowboy with two punt returns for touchdowns in a season. His 19.41 punt return average this season is the school record.
• He has six 100-yards receiving games this season and has four games of 190 or more receiving yards on the year. He has at least one touchdown in eight of the 10 contests. For his career, he has 11 100-yard receiving efforts.
• Has 5,900 career all-purpose yards, which is the most in ASC history.
• He has 3,315 receiving yards which is second to Kirk Rogers' 4117 yards.
• His 228 career receptions rank fourth.
• His 37 receiving touchdowns rank third in school history behind Rogers' 50 and Mychal Carrillo's 38.
• Ramos has scored 284 points in his career. He needs three points to pass Lance Moore for second and 29 to pass Rogers for first.
• Ramos has scored 47 career touchdowns, which is only surpassed by Kirk Rogers in HSU history. Ramos has 37 receiving, one rushing, two punt returns and seven kickoff returns.
• He owns the career kickoff return yardage record as well with 2,120 yards and also has the most returns with 80.
• He leads Division III in receiving yards at 144.3 per game and is first in punt returns at 19.4 yards per return. His 189.2 all-purpose yards per game ranks fifth and his 16 receiving touchdowns are fourth.
• He ranks second in active career all-purpose yards in Division III.
• His seven career kickoff returns is the most by any active player in any division.
Has come on late in his freshman season and has six catches for 84 yards. He had touchdown catches against McMurry and Louisiana College. Had his first career start at East Texas Baptist.
The Cowboys use a variety of packages with its tight ends. Only Nick Runkles has been a presence as a pass catcher. The senior captain has 10 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown. His TD came on a fade route against Texas Lutheran. Woody Watson and Jose Sahagun are the other two tight ends on the postseason roster. Sahagun has one catch for 22 yards and Watson does not have a catch, but both are talented blockers.
The Cowboys will have 11 offensive lineman on the postseason roster and the unit has come along nicely throughout the season. It is a fairly young group. Riley Owens and Vic Rodriguez have started every game at left tackle and right guard respectively and are both sophomores. Marshall Agan and Daniel Edwards are both senior starters. Edwards has started every game the last two seasons and Agan has started all 10 this year at right guard. The Cowboys have had three different starters at center. Senior Nathan Paschal, freshman Kyle Zavala and senior Jake Trotter. Trotter has started the last three games. Counting Zavala the second unit has three freshmen in it with Patrick Riley at left tackle, Ty Crain at right tackle. Juniors Josh Maronski and Blake Graves are the reserve guards. The Cowboys average 292.6 pounds among the starters, which is one of the biggest lines in HSU football history.
The Cowboy defensive is the most experienced unit on the team for the Cowboys. All four starters are seniors and they have combined to start 105 games in their careers. They have combined for 124.5 tackles for loss in their careers and 62.5 sacks.
• Has 105 career tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss.
• Has five career sacks.
• Has blocked three kicks in his career.
• CoSIDA academic all-district selection.
The senior defensive end has been a menace to opposing offensive lines for four seasons. He has 37 career starts under his belt, which leads the team, and is a two-time team captain.
• His 223 career tackles ranks 11th and he is three tackles away from the Cowboys' career top 10.
• He is one-half sack away from tying Scott Forbes' school record of 24 sacks.
• He ranks fourth all-time in assisted tackles with 125.
• His 42.5 tackles for loss ranks third all-time at HSU.
• His 10 quarterback hurries is a school record.
• He has two career blocked kicks.
• His 10 quarterback sacks this season is the fourth-best in single season history.
• Had four tackles for losses, three sacks and forced a couple of fumbles against McMurry.
• Had two sacks against Wayland Baptist, Trinity and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
• His sack in the first game against UMHB on fourth down ended the Cru's chance at a late comeback.
• Walker has 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks on the year.
• He had two sacks against his hometown team, Wayland Baptist.
• Has 25 career tackles for loss.
• Ranks ninth at HSU with 14.5 career sacks.
• Is putting together one of the best years ever for a Cowboy defensive tackle.
• Has 17.5 tackles for loss and 69 tackles on the year.
• Recorded 2.5 sacks last week against LC and 3.5 tackles for loss.
• Had 14 tackles, including three for loss in the first game against Mary Hardin-Baylor.
• Had 12 tackles in the loss at ETBU.
• Ranks second all-time at HSU with 43 tackles for loss and is second with eight quarterback hurries.
• Ranks fourth with 19.5 career sacks.
• Has four career forced fumbles.
The Cowboys have an experienced group of linebackers, but they are still relatively young as well. Sophomore Matthew Hawkins is in his second season as a starter. Junior Cory Ward has started every game for the last two seasons. Tyler Ryan is the only senior among the two deep. The backups feature junior Duron Smith, sophomore Josh White and freshman Spur Hearne. Freshman Austin Dooley and senior Jake Hoermann are special teams standouts.
The sophomore from Aledo leads the Cowboys with 70 tackles and has 3.5 for losses. He also has five pass break ups and has recovered a pair of fumbles. He plays the strong safety position, which is a hybrid linebacker/safety and he is often in coverage. Had 13 tackles in the win at Sul Ross State. Has 130 career tackles.
Has 41 tackles and a couple of interceptions on the year. He had 13 tackles in a win at Sul Ross State. Only senior regular for the Cowboys at linebacker. Has 143 career tackles and has started 25 career games at middle linebacker.
Ward has 68 tackles on the year, including a pair of sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. Has 157 career tackles, including 8.5 for losses and has forced four fumbles in his career. Had 12 tackles in the Mary Hardin-Baylor game earlier in the year. Had a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown against Trinity.
In his first year with the Cowboys after redshirting as a freshman last year at Southwest Oklahoma State. He splits time at middle linebacker. Has recorded 41 tackles on the season.
Place has been a four-year starter for the Cowboys in the secondary. He has 66 tackles on the year and has two sacks and two interceptions. Had a career-best 20 tackles in the mud game at East Texas Baptist. Has 254 career tackles, which ranks sixth all-time for the Cowboys. He has five career interceptions and five career forced fumbles. Two-year team captain.
Freshman that stepped into a starting role in the second game of the season when starter Stephen Salaz went out with a knee injury. Had a season-best six tackles in the win over Mary Hardin-Baylor. Had a 54-yard interception return against Sul Ross State and also had an interception against ETBU.
Junior corner that has 26 career starts under his belt in the first three seasons. Has 43 tackles on the season and leads the team with 10 pass break ups. Has five career forced fumbles and two interceptions. Named academic all-district by CoSIDA earlier in the fall.
Mills took over as the starter in the second game and has been a big-play player for the Cowboys. He has 29 tackles and leads the team with four interceptions. He also has six pass break ups and a forced fumble. Has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, including a 45 yarder last week against Louisiana College.
The Cowboys' kicking game took a hit when all-American Nico Francino went down with a knee injury against East Texas Baptist. The junior handled all of the Cowboys' kicking chores. Now the Cowboys have three different players doing Francino's job. Reese Childress will handle the punting. He didn't have to punt one time last week and did an admirable job in the slop at ETBU. Freshman Reid Shillingburg has the bigger leg and will handle the kickoffs. Sophomore Ben Hill will handle the placekicks. He made 10-of-11 extra points last week against Louisiana College.
The coverage and return units have been solid all season for the Cowboys, especially the punt return unit. They have four touchdowns on the year, three on returns and one on a block. Many of the Cowboys extra players on the playoff roster will have special teams duties.
About Mary Hardin-Baylor
The Cru are led by 18th-year head coach Pete Fredenburg and have become one of the national powers in Division III. UMHB is making its 12th straight trip to the NCAA playoffs.
The Cru has always been a physical running team but has moved to a more balanced attack. Malcolm Miller and Duane Thompson get the most carries. Miller has 563 yards on 111 attempts this season with 12 TDs. Duane Thompson has 538 yards on 98 carries. Zach Anderson is the starter at quarterback and he has thrown for 2,041 yards and 19 TDs with just four interceptions on the year. He completes 61.3 percent of his passes. Wykeyhe Walker is the leading receiver with 778 yards on 42 catches with 11 touchdowns. Marcus Wimby has 33 catches for 540 yards and DeNarian Thomas has 30 catches for 344 yards and five touchdowns. The Cru starts two sophomores, two juniors and a freshman on the offensive line. UMHB averages 500.5 yards and 53.3 points per contest. They average 235.8 yards on the ground and 264.7 through the air.
Pierce Thedford is the leading tackler with 83 tackles and Baylor Mullins has 64 tackles and four interceptions on the year, but the strength of the Cru defense is its defensive front led by all-American Teidrick Smith. Smith has 21 tackles for loss and 14 sacks on the year. In the first game with the Cowboys, he had three sacks and blocked a punt and field goal. He has five blocked kicks on the year. Jon Isom has 11 sacks on the year and Haston Adams has 9.5 sacks. Reggie Wilson and Raylon hickey have four interceptions each. The Cru averages 12.2 tackles for loss and 4.9 sacks per game. Teams are scoring just 14.7 points and gaining 287.3 yards per game against the Cru defense.
Baylor Mullins averages 35.1 yards per punt and has put 25 of his 46 kicks inside the 20-yard line. Jacob O'Neill has 18 touchbacks on 88 kickoffs and averages 59.2 yards per kick. He is also 14-of-18 on field goals with a long of 46. Bryce Wilkerson averages 31.4 yards per return to lead the team. They average 29.9 yards per return. Wilkerson also averages 13.4 yards per punt return.