Hardin-Simmons football tries to stay perfect as Howard Payne comes to Shelton Stadium

Jordan Hofeditz
Abilene Reporter-News

Howard Payne (1-1) at Hardin-Simmons (2-0)

1 P.M. SATURDAY * SHELTON STADIUM * KOOL-FM 100.7

Howard Payne at Hardin-Simmons

What's riding on the game: The Cowboys are trying to keep their perfect record this spring and stay in position to play in the ASC championship game come crossover time. Howard Payne won its first game under first-year head coach Jason Batchel last week and could get back in the conversation to win the ASC West. Hardin-Simmons won 63-20 in 2019 and are 42-24 all-time in the series, including wins the last 12 meetings. This is the makeup game from Feb. 13.

Last week: The Jackets are coming off a 53-34 win at Sul Ross State. ASC West Offensive Player of the Week Jake Parker caught nine passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns — all of 50 yards or more. HSU got a little revenge from a 2019 loss by beating Texas Lutheran 33-14. Kyle Jones threw for 204 yards and three TDs in the win.

Scouting Howard Payne: HPU opened the season with a one-point loss against Texas Lutheran before a two-week layoff. The offense is led by freshman QB Landon McKinney (38-58-0—681, 6 TDs). Junior Billy Reagins (16-96, 2 TDs) is the team’s top rusher, but Tauren Bradley and McKinney have each gained at least 90 yards on the ground. Parker (20-392, 4TDs) is the leading receiver after his big game last week. The defense has done enough to keep the Jackets in games. Junior DB Kyle Bell is the leading tackler with 23, while junior DL James Jakubowski has three tackles for loss. Chadwick Foster and Steven Trevino have the team’s two sacks. Aaron Davis forced and recovered a fumble. 

Cowboys update: Marc Reed has taken to his new role as the team’s running back, averaging 6.7 yards per carry for 134 yards and four TDs in two games. Freshman RB Myles Featherston has 94 yards on 24 carries. Jones has thrown for 446 yards and six TDs — three in each game — getting five different receivers into the end zone. Jalen Crawford has two TDs while Cade Bell leads with 143 yards receiving. The Cowboys have scored in each of their opening drives this season and have scored 47 of their 82 points in the first half and another 28 points in the third quarter. The defense is allowing 243 yards and 10.5 points per game. 

What the Cowboys need to do to win: Quick starts have been a key for HSU so far this spring and putting up early points will be important. But the Cowboys need to keep their foot on the gas pedal and keep scoring, part of that will come from limiting penalties and self-inflicted wounds. Defensively, the key will be making McKinney feel like a freshman and using the strong secondary to slow Parker and Co. down.

Jordan Hofeditz's prediction: Hardin-Simmons 49, Howard Payne 21

Jordan Hofeditz covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jhofeditz. If you appreciate locally drive news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.