Fireworks exploded in the dark night’s sky at the conclusion of the football program’s season opener here at Crusader Stadium. The Crusaders celebrated their 56 – 15 win over Albright, after they made it clear that was their intent in the second half. This was the second time that UMHB played Albright in football and it was the second consecutive win against them, with last year’s game being an astonishing 91-7 slaughter. While the differences in the score between these two games shows the effects of losing several key players to graduation, it was clear that many players stepped up to the challenge. Quarterback Ryan Redding, defensive tackle Joey Longoria, wide receiver Michael Stimpson, and running back Tye Hill are just a small handful of examples of Crusaders that stood up to the challenge of leadership within the team.
The game started off with the Lions winning the coin toss and deciding to receive the ball first. After the Lion’s first several charges against the Crusader defensive line, the Lions punted on 4th down, where the Crusaders called fair catch at their own 46 yard-line. CRU quarterback Ryan Redding led a mixed ground and air assault that was spearheaded by both wide receivers Michael Stimpson and Ernest Musue. The drive concluded with Stimpson dealing the first blow to the Lions with his first touchdown of the season.
The ball changed hands many times after this with neither defense stepping down. However, this changed when Albright’s quarterback Jimmy Lahay threw a bullet of a pass that was intercepted by defensive back Drake Johnson, who then ran the ball all the way to the Lion’s 23rd-yard line. From there Redding took matters into his own hands and scrambled right and through a hole that was opened up by the offensive linemen for the second Crusader touchdown of the game. After a second successful point after touchdown by kicker Anthony Avila, the score was 14-0, Crusaders.
After receiving possession of the ball from the kickoff, Jimmy Lahay lead his offensive team back onto the field to try and chip away at the deficit. After he completed successful passes, including a first down pass to wide receiver Zack Miller that was literally caught right above his shoelaces, Lahay threw another pass that was once again intercepted by defensive back Drake Johnson. This led to a Crusaders’ ball on the Lion’s 34 yard-line. While the Crusader offense could not score one more touchdown before the conclusion of the first quarter, kicker Anthony Avila made an impressive 40-yard field goal and took the score to 17-0.
The first half of the second quarter was a stalemate between the two. However, this was broken by Albright when Lahay connected a long pass to Miller to put the Lions within striking distance of a touchdown. This was followed up with a run by running back Tony Thorpe that resulted in the Lion’s being just six yards away from their first touchdown of the season. However, the Crusaders’ defense remained undeterred and forced the Lions to settle for a field goal. This finally got the Lions’ on the scoreboard 17-3.
Unfortunately, the Crusaders’ next offensive possession was forced to a short end when Lion’s linebacker Nate Steffen recovered a Crusader fumble. Once again, the Lions entered striking distance of that elusive first touchdown of the season. After several decisive stops by the Crusaders’ defensive line, the Lions were forced to punt the ball away, however the punt got blocked and the ball was recovered once again by Albright. This momentary lapse of concentration by the Crusaders’ defense was enough for the Lions to get their first touchdown of the season by a well-executed passing play. This touchdown concluded the second half and saw the score change: to 17-9, Crusaders.
In the second half of the contest, UMHB made the necessary adjustments that swung the momentum further in their favor. As quarterback Luke Poorman stepped into the game the offense got rolling and didn’t stop. On his first drive, Poorman threw to wide receiver Brenton Martin who was running an inside slant route for a sixteen-yard touchdown. On his second, drive he threw a crucial pass to wide receiver Jaylan Jenkins that set up the CRU on the fist and four. Luke Poorman, on an option read, pulled the ball from his running back and ran in for his second overall touchdown in the game, putting the score 31 – 9 in favor of the Crusaders.
Albright retaliated by driving the ball downfield in the third quarter. With the game clock winding down and only having six seconds left, Albright quarterback Jimmy Lahay threw the ball to receiver Mike Jordan, who ran out of bounds and then proceeded to run back inbound for the touchdown. This could have resulted in a penalty since the receiver seemed to have ran out of bounds. However, it garnered the Lions touchdown points, with the score now at 31-15. That event would soon become null as on an attempt to make a two-point conversion, Lahay threw the ball right in the hands of the Cru’s team captain and defensive back Jefferson Fritz, who returned it all the way to the CRU end-zone, making the score 33 to 15.
The gap would only widen from this point as the Cru switched out senior Luke Poorman with freshman quarterback Tommy Bowden. The CRU would proceed to score four different times. During a 47-yard run made by freshman Tye Hill, a field goal and a 16-yard scramble by Tommy Bowden effectively put the game forever out of reach for the Lions with a score of 56- 15. The Crusaders would go on to celebrate their blow-out win with the post-game fireworks show, sending Albright back home in a fiery display of Crusader dominance.