Mike Redwine’s tenure as head coach of the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets concluded after Saturday’s season finale, a 70-20 home loss to the No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Redwine — who posted a three-year record of 13-17 at HPU — announced he will step down to join his family in Bethany, Okla., where they moved prior to the start of the season. After guiding Howard Payne to a 7-3 record in his first season, Redwine’s teams finished 5-5 in 2006 and 1-9 this year.
The Yellow Jackets ended the 2005 campaign with six straight wins — including a 24-20 home triumph over nationally-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor — and started 2006 with three victories to push the win streak to nine. But Howard Payne has dropped 14 of its last 17 contests, with eight of those losses being by seven points or less.
“We talk about faith, family and football and I’ve put my family and faith above my career,” said Redwine in a postgame radio interview. “We had to make some decisions and there were some family issues we needed to tend to and we’ve done that. I am leaving, and I did know that back late in the summer, but leaving at that time seemed inappropriate. My family did relocate at that time.
“We hate leaving. We’re not leaving because of records, we’re not leaving because we don’t like Brownwood or Howard Payne, because we did. This was not an easy decision for our family, and obviously I will do anything I can to help Howard Payne as an institution. This place has certainly touched my family and for that we’re eternally grateful.”
Redwine added he had recently accepted a position at Southern Nazarene University — which faced the Yellow Jackets in their last two season openers — to work in enrollment services.
“I’m sorry this hasn’t lasted as long as we wanted and I’m sorry the record this year wasn’t what we wanted,” Redwine said. “But I promise you we have a neat group of young men who are learning a lot about life and they are certainly working hard to excel on the football field as well. I’m excited about seeing the things they do from here.”
On the field, American Southwest Conference champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (9-1, 8-0) improved on its 54.1-points per game average as it eclipsed the 60-point mark for the fourth time this season. UMHB scored three touchdowns each in the first and second quarters, and tacked on two touchdowns apiece in the third and fourth quarters.
The Crusaders — who will begin play in the NCAA Division III playoffs next week — racked up 661 yards of total offense, while the defense forced five turnovers and limited the Yellow Jackets (1-9, 1-7) to 254 total yards.
“They’re leading the conference in turnover margin, but you just cannot hurt yourself against a team like this,” Redwine said. “What you have to do is force them into some turnovers, get a lead on them and get them out of their offense. Except for Wisconsin-Whitewater, nobody’s been able to do that.”
UMHB running backs Quincy Daniels and Jarvis Thrasher rushed for 138 and 129 yards, respectively, and each back scored two touchdowns.
Quarterback Josh Welch completed 6-of-12 passes for 78 yards with a pair of scoring tosses, while Josh Saenz connected on 4-of-5 attempts for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Patrick Oliver led the Crusader receiving corps with three catches for 58 yards — all touchdowns — and he also threw a 78-yard touchdown pass. Cole Smith also caught two passes — both touchdowns — that covered 98 yards.
Howard Payne quarterback Jason Lovvorn completed 26-of-46 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Zach Howard caught a game-high 11 passes for 65 yards, while Jordan Beard hauled in five catches for 85 yards with two touchdowns. Justin Havard added four receptions for 47 yards.
The Yellow Jackets mustered just 6 yards rushing on 13 carries, with Edward Cody picking up 14 yards on one rush. Howard added just 4 yards, while Lovvorn lost 12 on seven sacks.
Mary Hardin-Baylor took advantage of three first-quarter turnovers to build a 28-0 advantage one play into the second period.
Howard Payne’s first possession ended in an interception and UMHB needed only one play to score. Welch connected on a 29-yard scoring toss to a wide-open Oliver for a 7-0 lead just 1:10 in the game.
Thrasher scored the first of his two touchdowns in the quarter on a 5-yard run with 10:49 left in the first period. The scamper capped a five-play, 51-yard drive.
Thrasher found the end zone again from 1 yard out with 49 seconds left in the quarter. That play ended an 11-play, 86-yard trek.
The Yellow Jackets then fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, which UMHB’s Shawn Prettyman recovered. Three plays later, Daniels concluded a 23-yard march with a 2-yard touchdown run just 5 seconds into the second period.
Howard Payne’s first touchdown came with 35 seconds left in the first half on a 22-yard pass from Lovvorn to Beard, which cut the deficit to 42-7.
Down 56-7, the Yellow Jackets scored back-to-back touchdowns on a 42-yard Lovvorn to Beard pass and a 1-yard Lovvorn run. Lovvorn’s run came with 3:29 left in the third period and marked the final points of the year for Howard Payne.
“No question this is a quality football team,” said Redwine of the Crusaders. “The key in games like this, you just have to weather the storm early, keep in it, then all the sudden you start playing a little bit over your head. Our guys were playing hard, we just couldn’t make up for some of the mistakes we made early.”