October 2nd, 2023 5:00am
Week five in the GAC is in the books. With Saturday’s results included, we have a pair of teams at every record in the league, beginning at 5-0 and moving all the way down to 0-5. Pretty wild statistical oddity that probably only interests me. Sure makes the standings look nice and symmetrical for the OCD crowd!
Let’s get to the recaps.
Harding 64, Southwestern OSU 0
Harding- Well, we knew this would be ugly, but even our 49-0 prediction came up short. The Bisons rolled up 587 total yards, 462 on the ground, and held the Bulldogs to 79 yards. Most importantly, the Bisons stayed healthy as the matchup with Ouachita Baptist looms.
SWOSU- Not much to say here. We knew the Bulldogs weren’t going to be able to move the ball on Harding and that the front seven of SWOSU would keep the Bisons in check for a short time. Harding only had a single touchdown in the first quarter and averaged under five yards per play on their first two drives. Then the dam broke and it was over.
East Central 35, Arkansas-Monticello 28
UAM- Tough one for the Weevils to lose at home. Clearly, Demilon Brown remains the engine that makes the offense go, as his absence on Saturday was huge. We’ll see how long he remains out. The Weevils defense stiffened in the second half, as East Central LOST 14 yards on eight drives after going up 28-7 early in the third quarter. Unfortunately, one of those eight drives was a 17-yard touchdown run that iced the game with 3:59 to play.
ECU- Impressive road win for the Tigers, who went away Traair Edwards at quarterback on Saturday, opting for Jaiave Magalei and Zy Gravitt instead. The duo combined for 14-of-28, 228 yards and three scores with no turnovers. The defense did good against the UAM back up quarterbacks, but the second half offense definitely is cause for concern looking ahead down the road.
Southern Arkansas 28, Southern Nazarene 21
SAU- What a tremendous game and effort by the SAU defense. The Muleriders held SNU to just 151 yards rushing, just the second time in 14 games SNU has been under 200 yards on the ground. The offense did just enough to get the job done, controlling time of possession in the second half and not letting SNU put any points on the board after halftime. The improvements we saw in the SAU defense in the first four games were legitimized on Saturday.
SNU- A really tough loss at home for the Crimson Storm, who are oddly now 2-6 at home over the past two years while holding a 6-2 road record. The offense stalled in the second half and just couldn’t find a good rhythm on any of their possessions after halftime. However, the defense put up a tremendous performance and was absolutely equal to the Muleriders’ high-powered offense. Again, a tremendous game between two very evenly-matched teams.
Ouachita Baptist 34, Southeastern OSU 7
OUA- Ouachita took care of business with very little fanfare against the Savage Storm, as they also try not to look ahead to the matchup with Harding. The run game wasn’t the best, though, as the Tigers had just 131 yards and 3.4 yards per carry on Saturday. That won’t get the job done against Harding and Henderson State.
SEOSU- The defense made thing difficult for the Tigers, but the offense couldn’t put any points on the board until the final minute of the ball game. The Savage Storm turned the ball over on downs three straight times in Ouachita territory in the third quarter, including the first time at the Tiger’s 12-yard line. Can’t win if you don’t score.
Henderson State 27, Oklahoma Baptist 14
HSU- The Reddies’ defense was the story of this one. After giving up a 75-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter, the Reddies didn’t allow the Bison another point until the final minute and no drive longer than 28 yards until the final stanza. The offense scored on four of their first five possessions, but wasn’t effective at all in the second half, managing just 82 yards and a field after the break.
OBU- Give lots of credit to the Bison defense. They held HSU to just 292 yards of offense and really clamped down after giving up three consecutive touchdown drives to open the game. Unfortunately, the offense was just unable to move the ball against the Reddies’ defense for much of the night. The Bison managed just 62 yards on the ground against HSU.
Arkansas Tech 44, Northwestern OSU 21
ATU- The Wonder Boys finally got in the win column in a big way against the Rangers. Tech rolled up 532 yards of offense and led 30-7 at halftime. Whether or not this kick-starts a second-half surge remains to be seen. Quarterback Taye Gatewood, who has been good all season, was literally almost perfect, throwing for 254 yards and four scores on 19-of-20 passes. The 95 percent completion mark eclipsed the previous GAC single-game record of 91.7 percent held by Henderson State’s Andrew Black from 2016. What a night for the Wonder Boy signal caller.
NWOSU- The offense found some success, but the defense just couldn’t stop anything. Again, it’s a long rebuild in Alva, and this is just part of the process, unfortunately. The rivalry game against SWOSU is probably going to be a battle of winless teams.
Prediction recap: 4-2, 25-5 for the season
Missed on SNU and UAM this week. Everyone has an off week.