September 30th, 2021 10:00am
GAC – WEEK FIVE
And then there were two.
After last week’s win by Harding over Ouachita Baptist, only two teams remain unbeaten in the GAC and those two teams will face off this weekend in Durant, Okla. as Henderson State travels to Southeastern Oklahoma.
East Central used overtime to beat Northwestern Oklahoma to stay in contention for the GAC title but will face a huge challenge against Southern Arkansas, while Oklahoma Baptist held off Southwestern Oklahoma to also remain one game back of the leaders and will take on Harding in another key matchup.
Harding 38, Ouachita Baptist 21
Harding extended its home winning streak to 10 games and ended Ouachita Baptist’s 30 game GAC win streak with a dominating 38-21 win over the Tigers.
The Bisons compiled 409 yards rushing while controlling the football for more than 40 minutes. Omar Sinclair led Harding with a career-high 182 yards on 16 attempts. Quarterback Preston Paden scored three times while rushing for 82 yards.
The Harding defense was outstanding in limiting Ouachita to just 242 yards of total offense.
OBU’s TJ Cole managed 106 rushing yards in a losing effort.
East Central 20, Northwestern Oklahoma 17 (ot)
Kenny Hrncir connected with JayQuan Lincoln with a 25-yard scoring strike on the first play in overtime to beat the Tigers 20-17.
Hrncir had three touchdown tosses in the game including a 74-yard pass to Chris Shaw and a 20-yard connection with Teslim Abubakar. Hrncir ended the night completing 19 of 37 passes for 350 yards.
The Rangers defense recorded 10 tackles for last yardage in the loss, but the offense was limited to 350 yards.
Oklahoma Baptist 31, Southwestern Oklahoma 27
The Bison held off a pesky Bulldog team that limited OBU to a season low 432 yards of offense including just 167 yards through the air. It was the first time OBU was held to less than 300 passing yards this season.
However, the Bison rushed for a season-best 265 yards with Tyler Stuever rushing for 178 yards on 25 attempts.
Josh Arnold led the Bison defense with 16 tackles, with seven stops for lost yardage and a key sack late in the fourth quarter to end a potential go-ahead SWOSU scoring drive.
Preston Haire compiled 167 yards through the air, completing 17 of his 32 passing attempts. Haire added a touchdown to Keilahn Harris. Harris caught six passes for 95 yards as this was the first time the receiver has been kept under 100 yards this season.
Southeastern Oklahoma 31, Southern Nazarene 10
Despite having its lowest offensive output of the season, Southeastern Oklahoma improved to 4-0 on the year with a 31-10 win over Southern Nazarene.
SEOSU topped the 30-point plateau for the fourth-straight game, but totaled just 257 yards of offense.
Ryan Taylor led the Savage Storm with 78 yards rushing, while CJ Shavers totaled 51 yards.
Daulton Hatley finished the contest 11-of-20 through the air for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns without giving up an interception.
Henderson State 55, Southern Arkansas 48
What was one of the greatest comebacks in GAC history, Henderson State overcame a 28-0 first quarter deficit to beat Southern Arkansas and set up a showdown with Southeastern Oklahoma.
SAU took advantage of three first-quarter interceptions, including a 35-yard pick-six, and found itself down 28-0 after 15 minutes of play.
The Reddies scored early in the second quarter on a Darius Austin 1-yard plunge to get Henderson’s offense started.
Trailing 28-7 with five minutes remining in the half, Reddies quarterback Adam Morse and the offense showed their resilience putting up an astounding 28 points to take a 35-28 lead at the break.
Trailing 42-35 late in the third quarter, SAU put together an impressive 12-play drive down to the Reddie 4, before Jake Chatman intercepted a Hayden Mallory pass in the endzone and returned it 100 yards for a score and proved to be the back-breaker for SAU.
Morse threw for 291 yards, three touchdowns, while Austin finished with 85 yards on just seven carries and found the end zone three times. L’liott Curry led Henderson in receiving with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Thomas, a freshman defensive back, had two big interceptions for the Reddies in the second quarter and led the team with nine tackles.
Arkansas-Monticello 27, Arkansas Tech 20
Gregg Hooks picked off a Jack Lindsey pass and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to secure a 27-20 win for Arkansas-Monticello.
It was a game plagued with penalties as UAM was whistled for 16 infractions totaling 152 yards, while ATU committed 12 fouls for 105 yards.
Arkansas Tech held a 10-7 lead at halftime, but UAM scored 14 points in the final quarter on a Demilon Brown 21-yard score and Hooks’ interception.
Brown finished the game with 268 yards of total offense completing 15-of-26 for 155 yards and rushing 13 times for 113 yards and two scores.
Lindsey completed 21 of 30 passes for a season-best 210 yards for the Wonder Boys.
GAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
GAC CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Omar Sinclair, Harding, RB, Jr., Norcross, Georgia
Sinclar led the Bison rushing attack in their 38-21 win against No. 8 Ouachita. He carried the ball 16 times for 182 yards and a touchdown. Six of his attempts went for at least 10 yards. He added a 25-yard kick return to finish with 207 all-purpose yards. Harding ended Ouachita’s 30-game GAC win streak, a streak that began on October 12, 2017.
GAC CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Tyler Stuever, Oklahoma Baptist, RB, Jr., Washington, Oklahoma
Stuever ran 25 times for 178 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown, as the Bison held off Southwestern Oklahoma State, 31-27, to improve to 3-1 for the first time since joining the GAC in 2015. In his last two games, he has 358 rushing yards and he ranks sixth in Division II with 529 rushing yards.
GAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Josh Arnold, Oklahoma Baptist, LB, Sr., Collinsville, Oklahoma
Arnold turned in a record-breaking performance in the Bison’s 31-27 road victory against Southwestern Oklahoma State. He recorded 7.0 tackles for loss - including 3.0 sacks - to break both the school and conference single-game record. He finished with 13 tackles, 12 of the solo variety.
GAC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Temo Martinez, Henderson State, K, Jr., Dardanelle, Arkansas
Martinez converted all eight of his extra points in the Reddies’ 56-49 dramatic come-from-behind victory against Southern Arkansas. Henderson State overcame a 28-0 first-quarter deficit to produce the greatest comeback in GAC history. He also pooched a second-quarter kick recovered by the Reddies that led to the go-ahead touchdown.
ON THE DOCKET THIS WEEK
Last week: 4-2; Season Record 17-7.
Northwestern Oklahoma (0-4) at No. 17 Ouachita Baptist (3-1) Noon Central
OBU returns home after a disappointing loss to Harding.
The Tigers rank second in the GAC in rushing offense (248 ypg) while the Rangers rank 10th in rushing defense allowing 211 yards per contest.
Ranger quarterback Tanner Clarkson is averaging 283.5 yards passing which ranks fourth in the GAC, but he will face a defense that allows just 127.8 yards per outing.
Look for TJ Cole (124.5 ypg) to eclipse the 100-yard mark again this season as the Tigers roll in this one.
PREDICTION: Ouachita Baptist 42, Northwestern Oklahoma 14
Arkansas Tech (0-4) at Southern Nazarene (0-4) 1 p.m. Central
At least there is one thing for sure, one team will pick up its first win of the season.
The Wonder Boys have been disappointing this season. However, Jack Lindsey had his best performance of the year last week against UAM.
Southern Nazarene is last in the league in total offense and is only scoring 12.25 points per game.
The Wonder Boys are last in rushing defense which could allow SNU quarterback Jarvis Davis to open up the RPO offense.
Arkansas Tech is slightly better defensively and Lindsey is starting to put up better passing numbers.
PREDICTIONS: Arkansas Tech 27, Southern Nazarene 14
Henderson State (4-0) at Southeastern Oklahoma (4-0) Central
GAME OF THE WEEK
If there were a total put on this game it would be at least 82 points. There is no doubt this will be a high-scoring affair and it’s a good thing it is an afternoon start.
After witnessing Henderson recover from a 28-point first quarter deficit and beat a solid Southern Arkansas team, its hard to pick against the Reddies.
HSU has so many weapons including All-American receiver L’liott Curry. But there are several receivers that have played a huge role in the offense including Xavier Malone and Chase Lodree. In addition to the depth at the receiver position, Henderson has a stable of running backs that add another dimension to the offense.
Southeastern Oklahoma has been impressive this season with the help of Daulton Hatley’s passing and the running of CJ Shavers.
One thing that could be an issue for SEOSU is its rushing defense which ranks 11th in the GAC allowing 214.5 yards per game.
However, Henderson’s defense ranks seventh in the league is passing yards allowing 223 yards per game.
It will come down to which team makes the big defensive play.
PREDICTION: Henderson State 49, Southeastern Oklahoma 42
No. 14 Harding (3-1) at Oklahoma Baptist (3-1) 2 p.m. Central
It’s the Harding Bisons (with an “s”) against the Oklahoma Baptist Bison (without the “s”).
Harding is riding high after knocking off Ouachita Baptist last week, but the Bisons are playing another OBU team that has a more balanced offense that may cause issues for the Bisons defense.
Harding is tops in the nation in time of possession and will attempt to shorten the game and keep the OBU offense off the field.
Harding has rushed for more than 300 yards and at least three touchdowns in 12 consecutive GAC games, while the defense extended its streak of holding opponents to fewer than 200 rushing yards to 50 games.
Oklahoma Baptist averages 40.8 points per game, but the defense has allowed over 403 yards per contest.
Look for Preston Haire to attack the Harding secondary, while Harding will continue to try and punish the defense with its nationally leading rushing offense.
Cole Chancey and Omir Sinclair will challenge the Oklahoma Baptist defense which allows 181 yards rushing per contest.
I have gone back-and-forth on this one, but I think the home team will come out on top in the end.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma Baptist BISON 27, Harding BISONS 24
Southern Arkansas (2-2) at East Central (3-1) 2 p.m. Central
This game matches the number three offense, Southern Arkansas, against the second best defense in the GAC in East Central.
The big question will be how Southern Arkansas rebounds following its collapse at Henderson State last week.
The Muleriders have shown that they have a balanced offense and can score points behind the quarterback play of Hayden Mallory and the GAC’s top running back in Jariq Scales.
East Central’s three wins are against opponents that have a combined record of 0-12.
Southern Arkansas should rebound in a big way.
PREDICTION: Southern Arkansas 44, East Central 13
Southwestern Oklahoma (0-4) at Arkansas-Monticello (2-2) 2 p.m. Central
The Bulldogs have played perhaps the toughest part of their schedule to begin the year with those opponents being 15-3 including losses against a pair of unbeaten teams.
SWOSU quarterback Tanner Griffin leads the GAC in passing and has thrown eight touchdown passes in three games.
UAM Demilon Brown is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the league.
The Boll Weevils must get someone else involved in the offense. Devontae Dean needs to get back to his form from 2019 where he averaged 80 yards per game to take pressure off of Brown.
UAM ranks 11th in the GAC in pass defense, while the Bulldogs are first in passing offense.
Griffin could have a career day against UAM with the Bulldogs celebrating a win on their long bus ride home.
PREDICTION: Southwestern Oklahoma 45, Arkansas-Monticello 21