Young players step into big roles

As the Crusader offense continues to improve, the defense already looks to be in championship form after putting in another dominating performance Sept. 19 with a 43-10 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse at Crusader Stadium.

UMHB didn’t find the endzone until early in the second quarter when junior quarterback Blake Jackson took it himself for a 16-yard scoring run to put the Cru up 10-3.

That would open the floodgates. Duane Thompson sprinted for a 31-yard touchdown to cap off an 80-yard drive. On the next drive, Michael Carpenter scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 24-3. A Jacob O’Neill field goal made it 27-3 at halftime.

Senior quarterback Zach Anderson scored on a three-yard run on the first drive of the second half. Malcolm Miller then added a two-yard score to make it 40-3.

UWL got in the endzone with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback John Tackett hit junior receiver Joel Oxton for a 25-yard touchdown.

The only scoring in the fourth quarter would be a 23-yard field goal from John Mowery to give the Cru the decisive 43-10 victory.

The defense held UWL to just 75 rushing yards on 37 attempts. On the season, the Cru has held opposing rushers to just 1.6 yards-per-carry.

Junior linebacker Matt Cody said the players do a good job of sticking to their individual assignments, which makes them more productive as a unit.

“The big reason we have such a great run defense is our unselfishness,” Cody said. “In our defense everyone has a specific job and task they have to perform every play. Even if that means not making the tackle. We have 11 guys that are working together to be the best defense in the nation.”

The team leads the American Southwest Conference in points allowed at 8.3 and is second in yards allowed at 189 per game.

The Cru have had to rely on several young players on both sides of the ball this season, but sophomore safety Reggie Wilson said the players know their roles and aren’t afraid of the situation.

“Our coaching staff does a really great job recruiting talented athletes which helps the older guys to be confident with the youth on the field,” Wilson said. “The older guys also make sure the younger guys know what’s going on, so they will be able to play fast and make plays.”

The team may be inexperienced, but Cody doesn’t think youth will stop them from accomplishing their goals.

“We are a young team but that takes nothing away from the success of the team,” he said. “In fact these young guns have been a tremendous help to the team’s success. They are incredibly talented … and have bought in to the code of the Cru.”

The Crusaders will continue conference play when they host Belhaven University on Saturday.

Author: Cody Weems

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