The Cru finished out ASC conference play this past weekend against Mississippi College in a 56-30 win against the Choctaws in Clinton Miss. The win boosted the Cru’s overall record to 10-0 overall and undefeated in conference play.
The Choctaws played the Cru closer than any other team this season, trailing only by a touchdown at half. But after the 56-yard pass to senior tight end Eric Nelson early in the second half, the Cru never looked back and cruised to victory.
“Mississippi College is a good football team and we knew we would have to come out and fight. We weathered the storm and came out with the win with the help of big plays on offense and defense,” senior safety Cody Jones said.
Jones was the leading tackler for the Cru with nine tackles and two intercepted passes to set up the Crusaders explosive offense with good field position.
The competitive play was no surprise to the Crusaders, who had been preparing for a tough match all week in practice.
“Mississippi College is playing well and keeping everything within the framework of the offense and defense. They have beaten everyone in the conference except Louisiana College,” head coach Pete Fredenburg said.
Quarterback Zach Anderson kept up the good work, passing 14-20 with three touchdown strikes, tallying up 180 yards in all. The Crusaders were balanced against the Choctaws with senior running back Elijah Hudson carrying the ball well and racking up more than 100 yards on the ground.
“I think we played well, it was good to get out there an get tested a little bit. But even 10 games in we still have work to do,” Hudson said.
Most programs would be content going into the postseason 10-0 and crushing their opponents by at least three touchdowns every game. But the Cru are not done polishing their skill sets in all aspects of the game.
“We are working hard to improve our front four pass rush and our screens on offense,” Fredenburg said.
But Fredenburg does acknowledge the success that his squad has had this season.
“We are playing very well right now and hope to continue the improvements each week,” he said.
It does not matter who the Cru face in the playoffs, players know they own their own destiny from here on out.
“I feel like we are one of the best teams in the nation, but at this point that doesn’t mean anything. From here on out, each game will be the biggest game of the season,” Hudson said.
Winning on Saturday was something that will stick in the minds of all of the players who made the trip to Mississippi, but especially the seniors who made it a point to claim that conference title.
“There is a great tradition at UMHB, so as seniors we felt like it was imperative to go out and claim a conference championship. It feels great to do that, but now we have to put that behind us and look to our next game,” Jones said.
The win clinched the Cru’s 11th ASC title in its program history and continued their impressive 44 consecutive regular season wins.
Hudson said, “All of those numbers are great. They really are, but right now we want one thing, and that is a national championship.”
The playoff bracket was released Nov. 17, and the men are schedualed to play the University of Redlands. This will be a familiar matchup for the Cru. The Crusaders beat the bulldogs 31-13 in California on the opening week of the season.
The University of Redlands are 8-2 overall and finished 8-0 in the SCIAC Conference. The game will be played on Nov. 23 in Crusader Stadium. The Cru clinched home field advantage for the first three rounds of the 2013 NCAA DIII playoffs.