Although the Cru fell just three points short in the football National Quarterfinals game against Wesley College, the team accomplished many feats during the season.
“We realize the season was a great one based on winning the conference and going 12-1, but there are always bad feelings when the season ends prematurely,” Head Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “I am very proud of our coaches and players and want them to feel good about their successes.”
They finished the year with a 10-0 regular season record and were named the ASC Champions, which allowed them to advance to the NCAA Division III Championship.
For the first game, the Cru played the University of Redlands. UMHB dominated the first half of the game and didn’t leave much room for the Bulldogs to come back in the second half. Junior quarterback LiDarral Bailey had 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries for the game.
The Cru advanced to the second round of playoffs for the eighth straight year. UMHB and Mount Union are the only two Division II schools to accomplish this.
For the second round, the Cru faced McMurry Nov. 26. UMHB led throughout the whole game but dominated the fourth quarter with 21 points scored. Junior linebacker and sport management major Javicz Jones had 12 tackles for the game and broke his own university and American Southwest Conference single-season tackle record.
He said, “Breaking my record I thought was going to be tough, but I set goals at the beginning of the season, and that was one of them.”
Jones was also voted South Region Defensive Player of the Year, along with earning a spot in the All-South Region First Team Defense.
With a win against McMurry, the Cru advanced to the National Quarterfinals and played Wesley College. The Wolverines took control of the first half of the game. With 2:41 left in the game, UMHB received possession of the ball and reached the Wesley 41-yard line. However, Bailey was hit from behind, and the play became incomplete. The Wolverines won 27-24.
Many players received honors for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Junior running back Darius Wilson, senior offensive tackle Nate Menkin, junior offensive guard Michael Coles and senior kick returner Tarirkus Ellis were voted to the All-South Region First Team Offense.
Senior defensive tackle Chris Brent was selected to the Second Team, and junior kick returner Geoff Myles was named to the Third Team. Myles broke the UMHB and ASC records for career punt return yards.
With many players graduating in May, they not only helped the Cru football program, but they gained just as much from it in return.
“Playing football at this university is so unique compared to any other organization,” Menkin said. “It has taught me life lessons, more than I can recount. … An experience like this turns you from the 18-year-old you thought was a man into a real man with a great religious influence.”