Howard Payne's defense dominates in win over McMurry

Staff report
Howard Payne receiver Jake Parker (3) turns up field after making a catch in a game against Hardin-Simmons during the 2021 football season.

The Howard Payne University football team intercepted McMurry University three times and used a balanced offensive attack to defeat the War Hawks 24-3 Saturday afternoon at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Howard Payne recorded 551 yards of total offense (244 rushing, 307 passing), and they had a 68-yard pass play from Landon McKinney to Jake Parker on the first play from scrimmage. Billy Reagins scored on a 3-yard TD run to give the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead just 67 seconds into the game.

McMurry scored its only points on the day on a 24-yard field goal by Jared Mendoza with 4:25 left in the first quarter.

It was all Yellow Jackets the rest of the first half. Hunter Cheek hauled in an eight-yard TD pass from McKinney to make it 14-3 with 1:13 left in the opening quarter.

HPU added two more scores in the second quarter — a 30-yard field goal from Blake Phipps with 2:59 remaining, and a 25-yard TD pass from McKinney to Parker with 18 seconds left before the half for a 24-3 lead.

Neither team scored in the second half.

The Jackets defense was led by Kyle Bell, who had 12 tackles, including eight solos, and an interception. Jerrett Brown and Trey Wagoner also had INTs.

McKinney was 16-of-28 passing for 299 yards and two TDs. Parker led the receiving crew with seven catches for 178 yards and one TD. Cheek added five receptions for 99 yards and one TD.

Tauren Bradley recorded 107 yards rushing on 19 carries. Reagins had 62 yards on 12 carries and one TD.

Howard Payne improved to 2-2, while McMurry fell to 1-3. The Yellow Jackets will host an American Southwest Conference playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27, against Belhaven University at Gordon Wood Stadium.