GEORGETOWN, Texas – The Southwestern University Pirates football team showed some sparks against the No. 1-ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) Crusaders but could not ignite any sustained momentum, losing 33-3.
Special teams started the Pirates in a bind, allowing the opening kickoff to hit the ground behind kick returner David Brandenburg, who had to field the ball inside the 5-yard line to pin the offense back to the Southwestern 7.
A three-and-out with the wind in the Pirates' face gave Mary Hardin-Baylor excellent field position at the Southwestern 37 after a downed punt.
The Crusaders marched to the 10-yard line within four plays but the Pirates defense held steady, limiting UMHB to a 22-yard field goal by Anthony Avila.
Southwestern started in poor field position again with a return from the 1-yard line to the 14 with a delay of game moving Southwestern back to the 9. A fumble on a handoff exchanged offered another self-inflicted wound, forcing another three-and-out possession.
Another short punt was compounded by a penalty for running into the punt returner, giving the Crusaders the ball on the Pirates' 25-yard line for an easy four-play drive capped off by a Jo'Vel McDaniel touchdown to give UMHB a 10-0 lead after the extra point.
The Pirates called for a fair catch on the ensuing kickoff, giving Southwestern some breathing room at the 25-yard line. Though the Pirates were limited to another three-and-out possession, the better starting field position bought the defense some space after the punt pushed the Crusaders back to their own 45.
Defensive back Josiah Minnifield had a big series on the Pirates' third defensive possession, making back-to-back tackles, including an open-field tackle for a loss to force the Crusaders' first punt.
Both teams exchanged punts over the next two possessions before special teams put the Pirates in poor field position again, calling for a fair catch inside the 2-yard line; leading to a safety on the Pirates' first offensive play of the drive.
The Pirate defense forced another punt, getting the offense the ball on their own 37. Quarterback Coleman Kerr got the Pirates' their first first-down on a quick pass to Anfernee Stephens for a 12-yard game to the 50-yard line. Any momentum was quickly halted when quarterback J.J. Slack's pass was intercepted on the next play, leading to a seven-play, 54-yard drive capped off by a three-yard pass from Luke Poorman to Jonel Reed for a 19-0 lead after the extra kick.
The Pirates got a huge play early in the second half, blocking Anthony Avila's field goal attempt to get Southwestern the ball at the Southwestern 32.
Slack found his rhythm under center on the next drive, breaking a tackle in the backfield and rolling out to his right to find Stephens for a 44-yard pass. On the next play, Slack connected with Brandenburg at the 10-yard line but a holding penalty negated the play, ending the drive with a 34-yard field goal by Wil Herbst.
Special teams bit the Pirates again when another fair catch near the 5-yard line was dropped and recovered by the Crusaders, leading to a 9-yard touchdown run by Robert McGrue with 4:36 remaining in the third quarter to give UMHB a 26-3 lead after the extra point.
The Crusaders struck once more in the third quarter after another Pirate punt, getting a 51-yard pass from Poorman to Reed for the final touchdown of the day.
For the game, the Crusaders had 391 yards of total offense with 187 on the ground, getting 17 carries and 101 yards from McDaniel. Poorman completed 15-of-20 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
The Pirates got 46 yards rushing from Slack, who completed 2-of-8 for 57 yards and one interception. Minnifield led the Pirates with 11 tackles, including two for losses with seven solo tackles.
With the loss, the Pirates drop to 3-3 on the season and 2-3 in conference play. Southwestern will return to action next week on the road against McMurry on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.