The win for McMurry marked the first for the program since a 34-24 victory over Howard Payne Oct. 13, 2007. McMurry defeated East Texas Baptist College under the direction of head coach Wilford Moore in 35-0 in 1948. East Texas Baptist University brought back the program after a 50-year absence in 2000 and had defeated McMurry nine consecutive times before Saturday night.
“The main thing was they had to get three monkeys off their back,” said McMurry first-year head coach Hal Mumme. “They had to get the East Texas Baptist monkey, the conference monkey and the general we haven’t won a game and we have sophomores who don’t even know what it feels like to win monkey.”
Jake Mullin passed for four touchdowns, rushed for another and 311 yards through the air to help lead McMurry to victory. With the score knotted at 21 at halftime, the McMurry defense pitched a shutout in the second half and East Texas Baptist mustered just 105 yards of total offense in the second half.
The McMurry defense forced five turnovers and scored its first touchdown of the season on Blake Shuler’s 30-yard interception return to seal the victory.
ETBU had 185 yards of total offense in the first half thanks to two rushing touchdowns, one of which came from quarterback Sed Harris who also threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter with 24 seconds to Trent Ledkins that led to the 21-all tie going into the locker room.
However, McMurry’s defense stiffened in the second half and allowed just five Tiger first downs in the second half.
“It was a great team effort. It’s hard to point out individuals because there were so many of them,” Mumme said.
McMurry kicked the ball off to the Tigers to open the second half and ETBU drove from its own 27-yard line to the McMurry 40-yard line. However, on a 3rd down and 18 play, Trevor Cavness carried the ball 13 yards before Gene Hudson forced a fumble and Josh McKinnis recovered.
From there, McMurry went on to score on three consecutive drives. Mullin through a 5-yard touchdown pass to Delfonte Diamond with 4:06 left in the third quarter and a failed extra-point attempt gave McMurry a 27-21 lead.
ETBU then went three-and-out and McMurry’s D.J. Baiza set up the next touchdown drive with a 41 yard punt return to the Tiger 44-yard line. Seven plays later Mullin found Marcus Franklin from one yard-out for a score giving the duo their second pass-and-catch touchdown of the game. Mullin’s pass to Keenan Alford for the 2-point conversion was good and McMurry took a 35-21 lead.
The Tigers were forced to punt after three offensive plays again and McMurry responded with an eight-play 62-yard drive capped by Jesse Garcia’s 31-yard field goal, which extended the McMurry lead to 17 points.
ON the ensuing kickoff, McMurry’s Keith Booth forced a fumble that Corey Benson recovered for the home team. McMurry didn’t score on the drive and was forced to punt, but the team ate up 2:31 more of clock giving the ball back to ETBU with 6:02 remaining in the game.
With it’s back to the wall, ETBU started from its own 20-yard line, however, on the second play of the drive McMurry’s Jared Villanueva tipped a pass that bounced off an ETBU receiver and Blake Shuler caught the interception and returned it for a 30-yard score to remove any doubt for the game’s final touchdown.
Mullin was 29 of 40 passing with 311 yards and no interceptions and became the first McMurry player to pass for four touchdowns in a game since Ty Sellers did it against Sul Ross State Oct. 22, 2005.
Diamond finished with seven catches for 102 yard and a touchdown while Franklin had nine receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Mullin and Franklin hooked up for the first touchdown of the game from 34 yards out in the first quarter.
McMurry rushed for 57 yards on 28 carries with Alford and M.D. Daniels each tallying 23 yards.
Defensively, Nick Hernandez led McMurry with nine tackles and two for a loss including a sack. McKinnis had eight tackles, one for a loss and the fumble recovery. Drew Wallace and Will Morris each had seven apiece.
The 24-point margin of victory was the largest for McMurry since it defeated Austin College 33-6 Sept. 17, 2005.
McMurry improved to 1-4 on the season and has a 1-2 mark in American Southwest Conference play while ETBU fell to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.