ABILENE — The outcome was decided early, but Mary Hardin-Baylor never let up through all four quarters as the Crusaders’ charge toward the playoffs built a full head of steam.

Senior quarterback Kyle King was sharp in his first start in three weeks, KJ Miller couldn’t be contained and the Crusaders defense was its usual stingy self as No. 2 UMHB buried McMurry 77-3 in the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at Wilford Moore Stadium.

Next for the Crusaders (10-0, 9-0 American Southwest Conference) is the release of the 32-team bracket for the NCAA Division III playoffs at 4:30 p.m. today when they’ll discover the identity of next Saturday’s first-round opponent — the first of what they hope is five consecutive postseason games as they seek their second national championship in a span of four years.

“There’s always things to work on, but I’d like to say we’re peaking right now or getting to where we need to be for the playoffs. There’s no nonsense and practices are starting to look really sharp,” said King, who threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns after sitting out the last two games while battling turf toe. “It’s starting to look like a championship-type team. We’re starting to believe and it’s starting to get fun for sure.”

The War Hawks (2-7, 2-7) had no answer for the Crusaders.

Miller returned a punt 79 yards for a TD — part of the senior’s 141 return yards — to stake UMHB to a 7-0 lead only 3½ minutes in, and the blowout began.

King threw TD passes of 15 yards to Brandon Jordan and 19 yards to Miller, and Aphonso Thomas barreled into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.

Kenneth Cormier had two short TD runs, and Jordan caught another scoring pass from King in the second period. Thomas and Marc Gutierrez had third-quarter TD runs, and the fourth quarter included scoring throws from backup quarterback Ryan Redding to Montana Miller, and from third-string QB Jackson Tingler to Jamaal Hamilton.

By the time it was over, the Crusaders had totaled 546 yards by averaging 8 yards per play.

“Our offense executed extremely well. (McMurry) gave us a lot of different looks, and we were able to capitalize on them,” UMHB head coach Pete Fredenburg said. “It’s a great place for us to be. Walking off the field, all I wanted was for our guys to feel good about it. I think they do. Everybody got to play, and they all performed.”

The Crusaders defense was equally productive, limiting the War Hawks to only 180 yards, forcing two fumbles and recording four sacks.

McMurry’s only points were via Jared Mendoza’s 23-yard field goal that made it 63-3 with 9:51 remaining.

“We’re obviously very pleased with how our defense has progressed. The front four has really grown and matured and is starting to put pressure on quarterbacks,” Fredenburg said.

It was a thorough performance at a key juncture for a team gearing up for what it hopes is another lengthy postseason run.

“I feel good with where we are,” Fredenburg said. “Going into a ballgame like this, you always worry about guys taking it for granted. They didn’t. The execution and the focus were there. I feel really good with what our football team accomplished today.”