Crusaders

UMHB’s Jaylan Jenkins outruns TLU’s James Bell (7) on an 8-yard touchdown catch Saturday during the Crusaders’ conference win in Belton.

BELTON — Jaylan Jenkins is a man of many talents. It seems as if there isn’t anything he can’t do on a football field.

“I can do a little bit of everything,” the Mary Hardin-Baylor junior receiver said Saturday in the afterglow of his team’s victory, before quickly correcting himself. “Except kick. I’m going to save that job for the kicker. Whatever I can do to help the team, though, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Jenkins had a touchdown reception and threw a TD pass to spark the offense, and the UMHB defense held Texas Lutheran out of the end zone for all 60 minutes as the top-ranked Crusaders dialed up a 41-3 victory over the Bulldogs at Crusader Stadium.

The outcome brought TLU’s seven-game win streak to a skidding halt while earning UMHB (9-0, 8-0 American Southwest Conference) at least a share of the league title and the ASC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The Crusaders — whose 24-game win streak includes last year’s national championship game — play their regular-season finale next week at Sul Ross State, then it’s on to the playoffs for the 16th consecutive year.

“We’ve continually grown every week, taking the steps we’ve needed to,” said UMHB senior linebacker Tevin Jones, who broke his program single-game record with 21 tackles Saturday. “The effort is always there, so I think we’re in a good spot as far as the mentality of the team.”

Anthony Avila’s 42-yard field goal and Marquis Duncan’s 3-yard TD run staked the Crusaders to a quick 10-0 lead. UMHB junior safety Jefferson Fritz tied the ASC career record with his 18th interception on TLU’s ensuing possession to set up Jase Hammack’s 9-yard scoring toss to Jenkins, and the Bulldogs (7-2, 7-1) were in a 17-0 first-quarter hole from which they never recovered.

“All credit to Mary Hardin-Baylor. They played a great game. They pinned us early,” TLU coach Carl Gustafson said. “You can’t make mistakes against those guys and expect to win or even put points on the board.”

After Avila’s 49-yard field goal early in the second period, the Bulldogs scored their only points of the day — Juan Ocampo’s 28-yard field goal — on an untimed down following a UMHB penalty at the end of the first half.

TLU finished with 365 yards and possessed the ball for more than 33 minutes — primarily because of slippery sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman, who routinely extended plays with his feet — but never crossed the goal line.

“We really had to work to contain that quarterback,” said UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg, whose team also got interceptions from Jayden Smith and Jacob Mueller. “Our defense really played well, even though they were on the field a lot. Our guys played lights out to keep them out of the end zone.”

Justin Theriot’s 1-yard scoring plunge early in the third and Mueller’s 93-yard interception return for a TD with 25 seconds left in the game bookended the second-half scoring.

In between was another highlight play midway through the third from Jenkins, who went in motion behind Hammack, looped back at the snap, took a toss going to his right and uncorked a throw deep down the right sideline, where Jonel Reed waited for it to come down before hauling it in and racing the remaining 30 yards of the 61-yard touchdown hook-up.

“We’ve been working on it all week. I had to make sure I did what I was supposed to do, because I don’t get a lot of opportunities like that,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been joking with Coach that I could throw it, but he didn’t believe me. I just had to show him.”

Duncan had 100 yards rushing in just his second contest of the season following a five-game suspension and an injury. Hammack was 11-of-16 passing for 123 yards. Reed totaled 103 yards receiving on four catches, and Jenkins grabbed a season-high eight receptions for 70 yards.

“Jaylan showed up today,” Fredenburg said. “That was good to see, and it’s coming at the right time.”