ABILENE, Texas - All season long McMurry football head coach Hal Mumme has stressed to his team the importance of winning at least six contests. With Saturday's 53-0 win over Texas College at Wilford Moore Stadium, reaching that plateau paid off for the War Hawks (6-3) when they received a post-game invitation to participate in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl on December 1 versus an opponent to be determined.
The Heart of Texas Bowl, which has existed for 12 years as a JUCO bowl game, is adding an NCAA Division II game this season to make the event a doubleheader. Mumme was the former head coach at Copperas Cove High School and several War Hawk players are CCHS graduates.
It is McMurry's first official bowl game since it won the 1949 Oleander Bowl, 19-13, over Missouri Valley College under then-head coach Wilford Moore (the stadium's namesake!). McM lost to Missouri College in the 1947 Boy's Ranch Bowl in its only other Bowl game. (The 1994 McMurry squad lost in the Aztec Bowl to a team of Mexican All-Stars, but the game's result is not recognized by the NCAA).
The invitation to the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl – read to the players and crowd of 1,553 by McM president Dr. John Russell – was the perfect topper to a day during which the McMurry team set numerous records and milestones on its way to a third-consecutive victory.
Appropriately enough, it was decorated senior quarterback Jake Mullin who, literally, had a hand in each record–setting moment. On the War Hawks' second drive of the day – beginning with a first-and-ten from McM's own five – Mullin hit Jeret Smith in full stride near the 30-yard line and the speedy receiver out-ran the TC coverage for a touchdown.
It was the longest passing play in McMurry school history. The previous mark was an 89-yard aerial from Lee King to Richard Compton in 1960.
Later in the first quarter, Mullin reached a personal milestone when he threw a nine-yard strike, also to Smith, for his 1,000th career completion.
But there were more records ahead for the War Hawks' vaunted "Air Raid Offense" versus the Steers (2-8).
Mullin would go on to complete 49-of-63 passes for 471 yards and seven touchdowns in his stint. The 49 completions topped his own single-game mark of 43 set last season versus Texas Lutheran, while tying the TD toss record of seven for the third time (sharing it with Braxton Shaver) in his career.
With Mullin giving way to both Brady Lambert and Tyler Rentfro in the fourth quarter, his understudies kept adding to the War Hawks' gaudy offensive numbers. As a unit, McM was 59-of-79 through the air, both team single-game passing records, as well. Lambert also had a touchdown throw, giving the team a record-tying eighth aerial score.
12 different receivers caught balls in the game, as Greg Livingston and Joshua Chatman had nine grabs each. Livingston accounted for 94 yards and two TDs, while Chatman had one touchdown catch and 60 yards receiving.
Clinton McCoy made eight catches for 138 yards and two scores. Smith had seven catches for a game-leading 148 yards and three TDs (on throws of 95, 28 and 2 yards).
Factoring in the team's 21 rushing attempts, McMurry reeled off 100 plays in all. That surpassed the previous best of 98 plays accomplished in 2005 versus Mississippi College.
On the afternoon, McM out-gained the Steers by a huge margin of 664-to-153 yards in total offense.
Not to be lost in the shuffle of all the fireworks generated by the McM offense was another outstanding effort by the defense, pitching its first shutout of the season. It was also the fifth time in which the unit has held a foe to 20 or fewer points in a game.
Linebacker Jonathan Blair's seven tackles led the charge. He also had one of his team's four sacks on the day. Josh Bridges and Corey Hall each had a full sack, while M.D. Daniels and Demonte Byrd combined on one, as well.
Hall now has 20 ½ career sacks and needs 2 ½ more to break Brian Venezuela's mark of 22 ½ sacks from 1996-2000.
Hall recovered one fumble, while D.J. Baiza picked up two loose balls from Texas College. Desmond Guy intercepted his third pass of the year, tying him for the team lead.
The victory also assured the War Hawks of a third-consecutive winning season for the first time by a McMurry team since the 1998-2000 seasons.
McMurry will host Bacone College next Saturday (2 p.m.) at Wilford Moore Stadium in the third of four-consecutive home games to close out the regular season.
Information provided by McMurry athletics department.