No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor is headed to the NCAA Division III national championship game for the fourth time in the last five postseasons after defeating No. 3 Wisconsin-Whitewater 24-7 on the road Saturday afternoon.
The Cru seeks their third national title during that stretch when they play the reigning national champion, North Central (Ill.), at 6 p.m. Friday in the Stagg Bowl at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Here are three quick observations from the win.
A Man Among Boys
Wisconsin-Whitewater had a problem without a solution in the national semifinal - a distinct height disadvantage.
UMHB’s Brandon Jordan was more than willing to take advantage of his 6-foot-6 frame during the contest, finishing with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions.
The tallest defensive back listed on the Warhawks two-deep roster was 6-foot-1, which was not the only problem. They were also young and inexperienced in the defensive backfield.
Six of the eight defensive backs on the Warhawks two-deep are underclassmen, who were undersized against the taller and more physical Cru receiving corps.
Nowhere to Run
Wisconsin-Whitewater was used to manhandling people along the line of scrimmage on offense. The Warhawks held a distinct size against the Cru in this game. The UW-W offensive line outweighed the UMHB defensive line by an average of 50 pounds.
However, the Cru had a speed advantage and wreaked havoc on the vaunted UW-W rushing game allowing 64 yards rushing on 30 attempts in the contest.
UW-W’s running back Alex Peete entered the game with over 1,400 yards rushing on the season but was held to a mere 43 yards on 20 attempts against the Cru.
Following a loss to UW-W in 2019, UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg talked about getting more physical along the defensive line. However, he remained true to his word, with the faster Cru defenders constantly muscling their way around the Warhawks’ offensive line.
The Perfect Gameplan
Brandon Jones was the Most Valuable Player for UMHB on Saturday, but offensive coordinator Stephen Lee was a close second.
The UW-W defensive line began the game by breaking through the Cru offensive line at will and putting pressure on quarterback Kyle King.
But the Cru made an adjustment in the middle of the first quarter and began running shorter routes and more screen passes which wore down the UW-W defensive line and kept King upright.
The adjustment worked beautifully, and the running game took hold when the big guys got tired, resulting in 79 rushing yards for UMHB running back Aphonso Thomas.
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