No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor, No. 6 Hardin-Simmons meet in DIII football showdown


6 p.m. Saturday ✮ Shelton Stadium ✮ 100.7 KOOL-FM

What’s riding on the game: What’s not? This game has settled the American Southwest Conference title six of thp last seven years, and a loss to the Crusaders last year kept HSU out of the playoffs. Both teams likely need to win their remaining games to make the postseason this year. UHMB, which started playing football in 1998, leads the all-time series 21-6 and has won the past six meetings. Of the 28 meetings, 11 have been decided by eight points or less, including the last three. UHMB is ranked No. 5 in the national poll, while HSU is No. 6.

Last meeting: Mary Hardin-Baylor beat Southwestern 68-14 in its ASC opener. HSU blanked Wisconsin-Platteville 41-0 in Wisconsin.

Scouting Mary Hardin-Baylor: The defending national champs have a new coach in Larry Harmon, an assistant with the team the previous 20 years. Pete Fredenburg, the only other head coach the program had, retired after last season. The Cru are averaging 547.7 yards (321 passing/226.7 rushing) and 51.3 points per game. They are giving up 370 (243 passing/127 rushing) and 18.3 points. Senior QB Kyle King (45-66-0, 891 yards, 13 TDs) threw five TDs, including four in the second half, to help the Cru overcome a 28-7 halftime deficit against HSU last year. K.J. Miller (15-279, 3 TDs) and Brandon Jordan (14-259, 4 TDs) are the leading receivers. Aphonso Thomas (33-251, 3 TDs) is the leading rusher. Sophomore LB Johnny Smith-Rider is the leading tackler (19, 12 solo), while former Brownwood QB Tommy Bowden, a senior DB, is fourth (15, 11 solo).

Cowboys update: HSU is averaging 514.5 yards (238 passing/276.5 rushing) and 60 points per game. The Cowboys are giving up 216.5 (116 passing/100 rushing) and 7 points. QB Gaylon Glenn (30-49-1, 442 yards, 6 TDs) has a lot of weapons around him, including Wylie grad Gatlin Martin (10 catches, 102 yards, 2 TDs), Kevi Evans (7-97, 1 TD) and Kai Brinkerhoff (5-103, 1 TD). Cooper grad Noah Garcia (6-122, 2 TDs) is the leading rusher despite missing last week’s game with a tweaked ankle. He is expected to play this week. Garcia had two catches for 32 yards, including a 20-yard TD catch, in his HSU debut and only game thus far in a Cowboy uniform in the season opener at Wayland Baptist.

What the Cowboys need to do to win: HSU needs a balanced attack and a must play clean on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Cowboys must limit UHMB’s big play ability. A big play on defense or special teams could make the difference in this one.

Joey D. Richards’ prediction: HSU 38, Mary Hardin-Baylor 35

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Mary Hardin-Baylor battles Hardin-Simmons in DIII football showdown