It was just another day at the office for the Crusader defense, as they held Belhaven University to negative 87 rushing yards, forced six turnovers and set an NCAA Division III record with 15 sacks in a single game en route to a 59-13 win Oct. 3 at Crusader Stadium.
Blazers quarterbacks Tristan Hibbeler and Clayton Webb combined for 459 yards through the air, but an aggressive pass rush combined with a stingy secondary resulted in four interceptions for the Cru.
Head coach Pete Fredenberg said the defensive line sets the tone for the rest of the unit.
“I think we’ve got a chance to really be outstanding up front, and they’re going to be the catalyst to help our defense be a good as it can be,” Fredenberg said.
On the offensive side of the ball, UMHB managed just 133 rushing yards on 38 carries, but senior quarterback Zach Anderson was able to keep the offense rolling by completing 18 of 22 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns.
“We just take what they give us. With our run-pass option, a lot of times they’re dictating what we do. I thought we had a good gameplan coming in and we executed well. All of our receivers made some good plays,” Anderson said.
The following week, it was the offense’s turn to shine as the Cru racked up 660 yards of total offense in a 62-20 win against Sul Ross State University on Saturday.
Anderson hit wide receiver Wykeyhe Walker who broke a tackle, sidestepped another defender and took it 79 yards for the score. The extra point attempt was blocked which left the Cru up 6-0.
With 8:24 left in the first quarter, sophomore Bryce Wilkerson fielded a punt, picked up a block and took it 69 yards to extend the Cru lead to 13-0.
Sul Ross got on the board early in the second quarter when quarterback James Davis rolled out to his right and found wide receiver Steven Savedra for a 55-yard score to make it 13-6 after a missed extra point attempt.
Anderson connected with Walker for the second time on the afternoon for a 7-yard strike to extend UMHB’s lead to 20-6.
With 4:20 left in the half, Sul Ross recovered a Cru fumble and set up shop in UMHB territory. Two plays later, Davis hit Savedra again for a 38-yard touchdown. A successful two-point conversion made it a six-point game at 20-14.
The Cru responded when Walker scored his third touchdown of the half on a 19-yard reception from Anderson to make it 28-14 with 2:47 left in the half.
Walker would go on to break the school record for receiving yards in a game with 205. The previous mark of 197 was set by Shaun Rochon in 2002.
Anderson completed 22 of 30 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, which was returned for a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Anderson fell just one yard short of his own record of 359 passing yards, which he set against Louisiana College in 2013.
The Cru would add a 6-yard touchdown run by Sterling Scott and a 75-yard score by Michael Carpenter as well as two field goals to comeplete the 62-20 score.
Even though the team emerged with a comfortable victory, Fredenberg felt his players lacked focus early on.
“We don’t want to ever treat a win like a loss, but the reality is that this team has some really high goals and it’s my job to make sure that they stay focused on those goals,” Fredenberg said. “We did some good things, but we didn’t take a step as a team to where we want to go.”
The Cru will travel to Pineville, LA to take on Louisiana College on Saturday.