October 28th, 2021 4:00pm
GAC – WEEK NINE
After eight weeks, the Big Three have emerged and sit atop of the GAC standings with identical 7-1 records. Harding and Ouachita Baptist cruised to victories with Henderson State needing overtime to beat upset-minded Arkansas Tech. Southeastern Oklahoma lost in overtime against Oklahoma Baptist with the Bison knocking SEOSU out of first-place.
Four teams rank in the Top 10 of the Super Region 3 rankings with Harding sitting in the number two spot, followed by Henderson at No. 6, Ouachita at No. 8 and Southeastern Oklahoma at No. 10.
Things will change over the final three weeks as teams face off against one another.
Harding will most definitely advance to the playoffs since the Bisons have a very favorable schedule.
Henderson and Ouachita have challenging games ahead of them including the two teams meeting in week 11. Meanwhile, Southeastern Oklahoma must run the table and hope for some help if they are to make the playoffs.
Most likely two teams will advance to the playoffs with the other two getting postseason bowl bids.
Henderson State 41, Arkansas Tech 38 (OT)
National Offensive Player of the Week Adam Morse completed 28-of-41 passes for 522 yards as the Reddies beat Arkansas Tech 41-38 in overtime.
With Henderson leading 35-28 with 3:24 to play, ATU quarterback Jack Lindsey drove the Wonder Boys down field with Lindsey connecting on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Eddington with 5 seconds remaining on the clock.
ATU decided to play for the sure thing and send the game into overtime. Kicker Jesus Zizumbo remained perfect for his career (67-for-67 in PAT kicks) as his kick sent the game into overtime.
Henderson won the toss and went on defense first. The Reddies defense held, forcing Zizumbo to kick a 24-yard field goal.
On Henderson’s second play in overtime, Morse connected with All-American L’Liott Curry for the 10-yard walk-off score.
Curry caught 11 passes for 193 yards, while Xavier Malone had 200 yards on 9 receptions.
Jack Lindsey completed 21-of-32 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.
Oklahoma Baptist 43, Southeastern Oklahoma 37 (OT)
Tyler Stuever’s 6-yard run in overtime helped Oklahoma Baptist upset Southeastern Oklahoma 43-37.
Trailing 37-24, Southeastern Oklahoma stormed back and scored on a 5-yard run by Deundre Wheeler with 4:58 to play in the game. However the point after failed and SEOSU trailed 37-30.
The Savage Storm was able to get the ball back following a 42-yard punt by Ethan McKasson. McKasson’s kicked pinned SEOSU back to its 1-yardline with just 1:32 to operate.
Quarterback Daulton Hatley completed seven consecutive passes in helping move the Storm down to the OBU 12 with just 9 seconds on the clock.
On what seemed to be the final play of regulation, Hatley’s attempt to connect with Duce Pittman was incomplete. However, OBU was penalized for pass interference in the end zone which placed the ball on the 2, giving SEOSU an untimed down.
Daulton hooked up with Wheeler for the score to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Bison defense came up big, forcing a Trey Keats 37-yard field goal that was no good.
It only took four plays for OBU to score the game-winner.
The Bison offense racked up 378 yards of offense, including 237 passing yards. OBU outgained the Savage Storm on the ground, leading the margin 141-133.
Preston Haire threw for four touchdowns completing 25-of-34 passes for 237 yards, while Stuever had 89 yards on 19 carries.
Keilahn Harris hauled in three touchdowns while having 114 yards on 10 receptions.
East Central 44, Southwestern Oklahoma 34
Kenny Hrncir threw three touchdown passes, with Taye Gatewood adding a scoring toss of his own to lead the Tigers to a 44-34 win over Southwestern Oklahoma.
Hrncir completed 18-of-27 passes for 193 yards to lead the ECU offense.
The Tiger defense recorded nine tackles for lost yardage with defensive back Jalen Baldwin picking off SWOSU quarterback Tanner Griffin three times.
Harding 64, Arkansas-Monticello 7
Harding had little troubles with Arkansas-Monticello as the Bisons rolled to a 64-7 win over the Boll Weevils.
The Bisons scored seven offensive touchdowns while also having a defensive and special teams score, delighting the Homecoming crowd.
Six different Bisons rushed for a touchdown, including Cole Chancey who scored twice and has now found the end zone in 14 straight GAC games. Also reaching paydirt were Blake Delacruz, Taylor Bissell, Preton Paden, Will Fitzhugh and Colby Clark.
Harding rushed for 340 yards on 62 carries, while the defense limited the Weevils to 54 rushing yards and 294 total yards. Harding scored 21 points off turnovers and have outscored opponents 79-17 off turnovers in 2021.
Northwestern Oklahoma 47, Southern Nazarene 27
Northwestern Oklahoma scored 21 points off turnovers as the Rangers beat Southern Nazarene 47-27, picking up their first win of the season.
Tanner Clarkson completed 21 of 29 passes for 238 yards while having touchdown tosses of 3 yards to Torrence Stevens and a 38-yard pass to Devond Blair, Jr.
Clarkson also rushed for a pair of touchdowns and totaled 78 yards on 12 attempts.
Despite completing 17-of-24 passes for 165 yards, Crimson Storm quarterback Jarvis Davis was picked off three times. Alejandro Aaron, Wacey Williams and Terry Atta-Peters recorded the interceptions for the Rangers.
Brian Holiday led the Ranger defense with 14 tackles, while Dax Benway collected 12 tackles.
Ouachita Baptist 42, Southern Arkansas 7
Ouachita Baptist continued to use its powerful ground attack as the Tigers had little problems beating Southern Arkansas 42-7.
TJ Cole eclipsed the 1000-yard mark for the season as the junior running back led the team carrying the ball 23 times for 119 yards while scoring three times.
Kendel Givens also had a big game with 73 yards on 11 totes. Givens scored three times and leads the team with 19 touchdowns on the year.
OBU totaled 408 yards of offense including a season-high 130 yards passing with Grant Allen completing 10 of 14 passes.
Defensively, the Tigers lit up the tackles for loss and sacks categories. Ouachita had a season-high 14 tackles for a loss of a combined 76 yards. The Tigers got to the SAU quarterback five times for the second straight game, this time for a loss of 47 yards.
Andrew Hayes led the team with 11 tackles while Anthony Freeman collected 3.5 tackles for loss.
GAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
GAC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Adam Morse, Henderson State, QB, Sr., Groves, Texas
Morse registered the most prolific passing game in Division II this season when he racked up 522 yards in the Reddies’ 41-38 overtime win at Arkansas Tech. He completed 28-of-41 passes and tossed a pair of touchdowns, including the game winner to L’liott Curry. He leads the GAC and ranks in the top 10 nationally in completion percentage, passing yards and total offense.
GAC CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Jalen Baldwin, East Central, CB, Jr., Houston, Texas
Baldwin matched the GAC single-game record for interceptions after he picked off three passes in the Tigers’ 44-34 win against Southwestern Oklahoma State, one shy of the school record. The second interception occurred with the Bulldogs in the red zone and third came on SWOSU’s final offensive possession. He added seven tackles in the contest.
GAC CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Brian Holiday, Northwestern Oklahoma State, DL, Jr., Waco, Texas
Holiday led the Rangers as they picked up their first win of the season, a 47-27 home victory against Southern Nazarene. He recorded a game-high 14 tackles, including six solo stops. He tallied 3.0 tackles for loss - including 2.0 sacks – that resulted in 11 lost yards. For the season, he ranks in a tie for third in the GAC in tackles for loss with 11.0.
GAC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Will Fitzhugh, Harding, ST, Fr., Sterlington, Louisiana
Fitzhugh became the first player in Harding history to block two punts in the same game. The Bisons’ J'Varius Wood returned the first block for a touchdown. The second block caromed through the end zone for a safety. In the third quarter, he recorded his first career rushing touchdown in the third quarter of the 64-7 win against Arkansas-Monticello..
ON THE DOCKET THIS WEEK
Last Week 5-1, Season 32-16
Arkansas-Monticello (4-4) at Southeastern Oklahoma (6-2) 2 p.m.
SEOSU returns home after a difficult loss last week. The Savage Storm will offense will score often this week especially against a defense that gave up 64 points a week ago.
UAM ranks 11th offensively in the GAC while the Savage Storm is third.
Daulton Hatley has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes while averaging 265.1 yards per game.
UAM has one offensive weapon and that is the talented Damilon Brown.
The Savage Storm will get out to a quick lead and not look back.
PREDICTION: Southeastern Oklahoma 44, Arkansas-Monticello 14
Southern Nazarene (1-7) at No. 19 Henderson State (7-1) 2 p.m.
Henderson State survived a scare last week to Arkansas Tech but the Reddies offense continues to lead the GAC. The Reddies defense has shown its vulnerability at times, but for they still get the job done. Henderson will need to make some adjustments before its final two games.
This week should cause little issues. The Reddies lead the league in scoring (43.5 ppg) while Southern Nazarene ranks 11th in scoring defense allowing 39 points per game.
It will be Senior Day in Arkadelphia and I look for some fireworks from the Reddie offense, especially from Morse, Curry and Lodree.
PREDICTION: Henderson State 52, Southern Nazarene 14
No. 7 Ouachita Baptist (7-1) at East Central (5-3) 2 p.m.
GAME OF THE WEEK
East Central could make a statement with a win over OBU, but the Tigers have had issues with teams that are above .500.
In those three losses over teams with winning records, the ECU Tigers are allowing over 500 yards of offense including 230 rushing yards per game. ECU has been successful against the five teams they have faced with losing records only allowing 300 yards per game and around 100 yards rushing.
These are the facts, and ECU faces an Ouachita team that is ranked third nationally in rushing per game.
With it being Senior Day in Ada against a Top 10 opponent, the Tigers will play with a little more intensity.
Still, OBU always seems to find a way to win and Saturday will be no exception.
PREDICTION: Ouachita Baptist 28, East Central 21
No. 3 Harding (7-1) at Northwestern Oklahoma (1-7) 2 p.m.
Harding has established itself as the best team in the GAC. The Bisons ground game can’t be stopped. Despite the long road trip, Harding will run all over the Rangers and will probably have at least 10 different players carry the football. Cole Chancey needs 150 yards to eclipse the 1000-yard mark for the third time in his career, that is if he is in the game long enough to get his carries.
This game could get ugly early with the nation’s top rushing team (360.3 ypg) facing the league’s worst rushing defense (235.1 ypg). Expect a Bisons stampede in Alva.
PREDICTION: Harding 49, Northwestern Oklahoma 7.
Oklahoma Baptist (5-3) at Southern Arkansas (3-5) 2 p.m.
Oklahoma Baptist is flying high after its upset over SEOSU, while Southern Arkansas is trying to figure out what hit them last week in Arkadelphia.
OBU is second only to Henderson State in passing offense at nearly 300 yards per game, while Southern Arkansas ranks near the bottom of the league in passing defense.
However, the Muleriders lead the league in quarterback sacks with 22. The OBU line will have to continue to give plenty of protection for Haire.
SAU must establish a ground attack and shorten the game if they are to beat the Bison. SAU’s Jariq Scales, who ranks second in the GAC in rushing, must have a big performance.
I think the Muleriders will keep it close for a while, but the Bison will pull away late.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma Baptist 35, Southern Arkansas 24
Arkansas Tech (2-6) at Southwestern Oklahoma (0-8) 3 p.m.
Arkansas Tech put up a valiant effort last week against Henderson State, but came up short. It will be interesting to see how the Wonder Boys will respond.
Southwestern Oklahoma just can’t seem to put it all together and continues to struggle.
The Bulldogs have a golden opportunity to pick up their first win, but they must contain quarterback Jack Lindsey and force him to scramble.
SWOSU quarterback Tanner Griffin averages 277.8 yards passing per game but he has thrown 12 interceptions.
If Griffin gets into a rhythm, he could cause the ATU defense some issues. Especially after Tech gave up over 500 yards passing last week.
PREDICTION: Arkansas Tech 32, Southwestern Oklahoma 27