No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor began defense of its national title by using a strong first half from quarterback Jase Hammack and a suffocating defense to defeat Redlands 43-14 in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
The Cru move into the second round of the playoffs next week and will meet Huntingdon next Saturday. The time and site will be determined by the NCAA on Sunday afternoon.
Hammack finished the game completing 14-of-25 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns with most of his damage in the first half.
Jonel Reed led the Cru with 58 yards and a touchdown on five receptions and Jaylan Jenkins added three catches for 55 yards.
The Redlands offense entered with a potent rushing attack averaging 224.3 yards per game this season. However, the Cru has been outstanding all season stopping the run and only allowed 53 total yards rushing and 1.4 yards per rush.
Senior linebacker Tevin Jones led the Cru defense with 13 tackles, six solo, two tackles for loss, one sack and broke up two passes.
Junior cornerback Keith Gipson also had a great performance with seven tackles, five solo, broke up three passes, recovered a fumble and had two interceptions including a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Gipson also had a huge play for UMHB in the third quarter after the Redlands had pulled within 21-7. A special teams mistake by Redlands led to a safety for the Cru and Gipson returned the ensuing punt 64 yards for a touchdown that extended the UMHB lead to 30-7.
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