The Cowboys will host the crosstown showdown for the second straight year and it will be the first meeting against former Cowboy quarterback Jordan Neal, who is in his first season as the head coach for the War Hawks. McMurry is 0-7 on the year but have been building momentum with two close losses to East Texas Baptist and Southwestern the last two weeks. HSU has no margin for error. It’s an outside shot to get to the playoffs but it has happened in recent memory for a two-loss team to get one of the pool C bids. The Cowboys need to close the season with three straight wins and hope for the best from the NCAA committee.
The winner of the game between the two teams gets to keep the Wilford Moore Trophy for the year. Wilford Moore is in both school’s Athletic Hall of Fames – HSU as a player and McMurry as a coach. Moore is also the namesake of McMurry’s Stadium.
The football game is also the next available points in the Dyess Trophy competition between the two teams. It is a five-point week in the cup as the two teams play soccer on Friday and the ASC cross country championship is on Saturday morning.
Overall: HSU leads the all-time series, 28-4.
Streak: HSU has won four straight.
Last Meeting: The Cowboys won the meeting last season 83-6 at Shelton Stadium in what proved to be the final game for McMurry head coach Lance Hinson. The Cowboys scored 35 points in the first quarter and led 49-6 at halftime. HSU pushed the lead out to 70-6 after three quarters. HSU had 676 yards of offense in the game and limited the War Hawks to 164. Ty Hooper completed 22-of-28 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and Bryson Hammonds ran for 205 yards and five touchdowns. Reese Childress had 11 catches for 139 yards. The defense harassed McMurry starter Kevin Hurley all day and he completed 16-of-28 passes for a total of 90 yards.
Series Notes: The Cowboys are 16-1 all-time in the series when the games are played at Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys won every meeting from the time the Cowboys brought back football in 1990 until the final meeting of the two teams before McMurry left for their short stint in Division II. The series took a break from 2012 to 2014 and HSU has won the last four meetings since McMurry came back to Division III.
ON THE AIR
Hardin-Simmons Football will once again be broadcast locally on 100.7 FM. Video broadcasts with full production will be available for all home games. Most road games will have a video broadcast produced by the home team. There will be links available on www.hsuathletics.com for each game. You can also listen on your mobile phone using the HSU Athletics app. Al Pickett is in his 15th season in the Cowboys’ play-by-play chair and 16th overall on the broadcast team. Former Cowboy quarterback Travis Jones will handle the color commentary duties for home games and director of athletic communications Chad Grubbs will handle the color analysis for the road games.
The Cowboys will hit the road to Marshall to play at East Texas Baptist next Saturday at 2 p.m. and McMurry will host Louisiana College next week.
IN THE POLLS
The Cowboys are No. 17 in the D3football.com poll and No. 16 in the American Football Coaches poll. The Cowboys have now been ranked 54 straight weeks in the in-season D3football.com poll. HSU has been ranked inside the top 10 for 29 of those weeks. The Cowboys only dropped two spots in both polls last week after the near miss in Belton.
AN HSU WIN WOULD
▶ make the Cowboys 27-1 in the last 28 meetings against the War Hawks.
▶ make the Cowboys 17-1 since the Wilford Moore Trophy game began in 1998.
The Cowboys and Mary Hardin-Baylor battled in an epic 15-14 game that the Cowboys never trailed until the clock hit 00:00 and Anthony Avila hit a 43-yarder as time expired. Both teams put everything into the game that did not feature a turnover (statistically the punt that hit off the back of a UMHB up man does not count as a fumble). The Cowboy offense was able to move the ball on the Cru’s top-ranked defense and the Cowboy defense limited the Cru to 211 yards. The game came down to one final play that the Cru executed handing the Cowboys a heartbreaking loss.
RUNNING AT THEM
The Cowboys offensive game plan on Saturday was to take advantage of its strengths in running the ball in a variety of different ways and play ball control on a windy day. Jaquan Hemphill had 148 yards on a career-high and school record 36 carries. Bryson Hammonds had 10 carries for 36 yards both in normal formation and out of the Cowboy package where he was taking the snap. Quarterbacks Marc Reed and Brennen Wooten both had rushing first downs in the game and Gatlin Martin scored on a fake field goal. To do those things you have to win the battles up front and it was a good day for the Cowboys offensive line and tight ends. They won many battles up front to keep the ball moving and the Cowboys had 15 rushing first downs in the contest.
STOPPING THE RUN
On the other side of the ball the Cowboys did a great job of stopping the run as the Cru had just 92 yards on the ground the entire game and only 119 yards in the air. The Cowboys dominated up front and 18 different players recorded tackles for the Cowboys in the game, which is a very high number in a low-scoring game.
The Cowboys rank sixth nationally this week in both total offense (509.9) and total defense (205.7). HSU also ranks seventh nationally in both first downs offensively and defensively. HSU has recorded 182 first downs and allowed just 81 on the year. The Cowboys rank fifth nationally allowing just 122,6 yards per game.
Hemphill had a tough 148 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown to tie Kirk Rogers for the school’s all-time lead with 51 for his career. He also went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and now has 1,100 yards on the year. He ranks fourth nationally with 157.1 yards per game. He ranks fifth in yards per carry and is seventh in all-purpose yards.
Records Set By Hemphill This Season
▶ Set the school record for longest rush with a 97-yarder against TLU.
▶ Set the school record for most yards in a game with 304 against TLU.
▶ Broke Lance Moore’s career rushing touchdown record of 37. He now has 42 and counting.
▶ Set the school record for rushing attempts in a game with 36 against UMHB.
▶ Needs 299 more yards for the school rushing record.
▶ Has moved to second on the all-purpose yards list passing Reese Childress and Collin McCormick.
▶ Hemphill has scored 306 points, he needs seven more to pass Kirk Rogers for the school record.
▶ Hemphill has 51 touchdowns in his career and needs one to pass Kirk Rogers for the all-time record.
MARTIN SCORES AGAIN
Gatlin Martin scored for the second straight week and for the third time this season. He scored on a fake field goal earlier in the season at Howard Payne but last week he executed a fake field goal run of two yards to give HSU a 14-6 lead in the third quarter. He caught a touchdown pass two weeks ago against Belhaven.
Senior defensive lineman Hunter Creasey moved to fifth on the career sack charts with his sack on Saturday at UMHB. He has 17.5 sacks for his career which ties him with Jacob Freeman and Hunter Creasey. He is two sacks behind Korey Zavala for fourth.
NEAL AS A COWBOY
McMurry is in the first season under former Cowboy quarterback Jordan Neal. In his six seasons with the Cowboys, Neal (Backup in 2001, redshirt in 2002, starter in 2003 and 2004, medical redshirt in 2005, starter in 2006) set the school record in almost every passing category. They were all later surpassed by Justin Feaster. He had 8.347 yards and 72 touchdowns in his career.