MARSHALL, Texas – Holding off a late rally from Howard Payne University, the East Texas Baptist University football team emerged victorious, 41-35, over the Yellow Jackets on homecoming weekend at Ornelas Stadium. The Tigers are now 4-3 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
Brian Baca keyed the Tigers offense with 232 passing yards on 17-of-28 passing with two touchdowns. He is now tied for the number one spot on the all-time list for passing touchdowns in ETBU history. Tariq Gray finished with a game-high five receptions for 55-yards and one touchdown while Jeremiah Robertson finished with 213 total yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) including 169 yards on the ground and 44 receiving. Defensively, Zach Pike had 10 tackles with five solo and five assisted while Justice Henson had eight tackles.
For HPU, McGwire Martin went 15-of-27 for 134 yards and one touchdown in the air while Billy Reagins guided the Yellow Jackets with four touchdown runs. Austin Killgore would lead the HPU defense with 13 tackles.
ETBU started with the ball in the first quarter, but gave HPU a smaller field to work on after going three-and-out and a short punt. Four plays later, HPU took a 7-0 lead.The Tigers would not back down as they would drive five plays for 69 yards ending with Robertson scoring his first rushing touchdown from 12 yards out. Their next drive looked promising until HPU’s defense made a big sack on third down forcing an ETBU punt.
The Tigers had to convert a fourth down to start the second quarter as Baca found Samarick Paul to keep the drive going. The next play saw Robertson receive a 39-yard pass from Baca to give ETBU their first lead of the game. After forcing a turnover on downs, ETBU added their third touchdown. This time, it was Justin Ward who breezed through defenders for 52 yards and a 21-7 lead. ETBU then recovered a fumble and appeared ready for another score. Once again, HPU stepped up to stop the momentum and stay within 14 points but their field goal attempt was blocked. HPU would get another chance to score by recovering an ETBU fumble. Seizing the chance, they scored to cut the lead to 21-14. Only then did ETBU responded by going 10 plays and 60 yards with Gray catching the second touchdown pass from Baca to make it 28-14 at halftime.
Neither side would score on their first possession in the third quarter. Following a HPU touchdown with 7:30 to go, ETBU would convert another fourth down as Baca hit Davion Carter for 10 yards. This led to Keshoyn Alexander running for seven yards for a touchdown extending ETBU’s lead to 34-21. The defenses then held each other scoreless the remainder of the quarter.
HPU did cut the lead down to 34-28 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It would take two Robertson runs for a combined 60 yards to give ETBU the 13-point lead back again, 41-28. HPU then drove down to ETBU’s 31-yard line before choosing to kick a field goal, which fell short and gave ETBU the ball back. Looking to end the contest then and there, the Tigers turned the ball over on downs and HPU would grab the ball back. They would score with three minutes to go cutting the lead to 41-35. After a failed on-side kick by HPU, ETBU picked up two first downs to seal the win.
ETBU will hit the road next Saturday when they travel to Georgetown, Texas, for an ASC game with Southwestern University at 1:00 PM.