Entering last weekend, we knew the state of Texas would have at least two teams remaining in the playoffs and could have four teams still playing if Mary Hardin-Baylor and Angelo State could win on their home field.
The Cru and the Rams each took care of business and combined with Incarnate Word’s thrilling 35-28 overtime victory leaves this great state with a chance to win a national title in all three NCAA divisions.
UIW wins thriller
As happens after every game I cover, some thoughts came to mind following the game that wasn’t covered in depth in the game story.
What Eric Morris at UIW and Colby Carthel at SFA have accomplished in three short years is nothing short of incredible. Morris took a football program with very little positive history at any level and has turned the Cardinals into a consistent winner in the FCS.
Carthel departed Texas A&M-Commerce for the Lumberjacks following the 2018 season. Carthel built the Lions from a bottom feeder in the Lone Star Conference into a national champion.
SFA provided another tough rebuild for Carthel, who took over a team depleted of talent at nearly every position on the field and turned them into a team capable of playing alongside the best teams in the country.
Both coaches are amazing recruiters, but they deserve credit for hiring great assistant coaches. Combine both those schools with Sam Houston and Texas is blessed with some of the best coaching staffs in football.
Speaking of Sam Houston, they will host UIW at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second round and a preview of that game will be published later this week.
A record streak for Angelo State
The Rams offense got on the board in the second quarter with a 63-yard run and earned a solid 20-7 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
The victory marked the seventh consecutive win for the surging Rams, which marks the program’s longest winning streak at the Division II level.
With every offense sure to struggle to score against top defenses as the playoffs progress, the Rams have one of the best defenses in NCAA Division II.
Last Saturday, ASU was challenged by a solid rushing attack led by dual-threat quarterback TJ Davis. However, the defense kept Davis from any success and held the standout to only 12 yards on 16 attempts.
The Rams now focus on No. 9 Colorado School of Mines and one of the top running backs in DII. The Super Region Four top seeded Orediggers rolled to a 55-6 win over Bemidji State and will host ASU next Saturday in Golden, Colo.
Crusaders make surprise QB change
Teams don’t typically decide to replace a healthy quarterback who has started the majority of the season with the backup quarterback. However, those teams aren’t coached by a two-time national champion.
UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg knows what it takes to win a national title and realized he needed more from his offense as the playoffs progress. Thus, Fredenburg turned to backup quarterback Ryan Redding against Birmingham-Southern on Saturday.
The move paid big dividends with the offense putting up 450 yards of offense, with Redding passing for 255 yards and adding 55 yards on the ground.
Redding seems to possess more of the dual-threat capabilities that Fredenburg prefers. The senior from New Braunfels, Texas, has averaged 8.2 yards per rush attempt this year, and his ability to escape pressure causes another headache for opposing teams.
The switch is also another genius move by Fredenburg, who has forced Cru’s next opponent, No. 7 Linfield, to spend valuable preparation time on both quarterbacks. I imagine Fredenburg is pretty good at playing chess.
Taylor Grimes, UIW
The junior wide receiver from Godly, Texas was outstanding last Saturday producing 118 yards and three touchdowns on ten receptions in the Cardinals win.
Weston Bauer, Angelo State
The junior defensive end from Brady, Texas, was instrumental in containing the dual-threat Colorado School of Mines quarterback registering seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and a sack.
Ryan Redding, Mary Hardin-Baylor
Redding was far from overwhelmed in the playoff start against Birmingham-Southern completing 14-of-23 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns while adding 55 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
Play of the Week
Rayshad Nichols provided the play of the week after the SFA defensive tackle stripped the UIW running back of the ball and raced 32 yards for a must-see touchdown.
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