ABILENE, Texas — Hardin-Simmons’ football team was able to hold off a furious rally to beat Howard Payne 38-31 on Homecoming, Saturday afternoon at Shelton Statium.
The Cowboys seemed to have the game in hand when Curtis Kevil went 47 yards for a touchdown with 1:42 to play to make the score 38-24.
However, Howard Payne went 73 yards in three plays and scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Zach Hubbard to Tre Mason to make it 38-31 and then the Yellow Jackets came up with an on-side kick and the Jackets got the ball to the Cowboy 21 before Hubbard was tackled on second down as time expired.
The Cowboy offense came to life on Saturday as HSU had 471 yards of total offense. Taylor Byrd combined for 12 completions in the last two games, but he hit 17-of-27 passes for a career-best 294 yards and three touchdowns.
The Cowboy defense limited the Jackets to minus-27 yards rushing in the game and sacked Hubbard eight times for 77 yards. Hubbard did complete 34-of-49 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns.
Wes Liles, making his first career start led the HSU defense with eight tackles, including 2.5 for losses and two quarterback sacks. He also recovered a fumble. Hank Hornsby had a pair of sacks for the Cowboys.
Derrick Grant gave the Cowboys an early lead with his first touchdown of the year. He ran it in from six yards out to cap an eight-play 60-yard drive. It stayed 7-0 until 6:51 to play in the first half when Kevin Reyna returned a Byrd fumble five yards for a score to tie the game at 7-7.
On the Cowboys next play, Byrd found Thomas Labian behind the defense for a 56-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 and Mason caught his first touchdown catch of the day with :35 to play in the first half, a 10-yarder from Hubbard to tied the game at 14.
HSU was able to go 36 yards in four plays and set-up Alex Wymore for a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys a 17-14 halftime lead.
The Cowboys expanded the lead to 24-14 with 4:08 to play in the third quarter when Travis Tatsch scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Byrd. HPU came right back and went 60-yards for a score as Hubbard hit Edward Cody over the top for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 24-21 with 1:21 to play in the third quarter. Mitchell Bailey then hit a 28-yard field goal for HPU to tie the game at 24 with 11:29 to play.
HSU came right back and Daniel Lofton made a great play on a ball and battle his way into the end zone for the first time this season on a 31-yard pass from Byrd to make it 31-24 with 7:01 to play.
The Cowboys are now 3-4 on the year and 2-3 in ASC play and Howard Payne is 3-3 overall and 1-3 in league play. HSU will play at Sul Ross State next week.