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Author Topic: Harding Football Posts 42-0 Shutout of Southwestern Oklahoma on Homecoming  (Read 89 times)

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Seminole Indian

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SEARCY It had been 52 years since the Harding football team shutout opponents in consecutive games, a feat Harding accomplished Saturday with a 42-0 blanking of Southwestern Oklahoma on Homecoming at First Security Stadium a week after its 34-0 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma.

But it was how Harding managed the second straight shutout that may be more impressive. The Bison defense accounted for 18 of Harding's 42 points with two safeties and two touchdowns, both on returns of more than 90 yards.

Additionally, Harding's defense forced six turnovers, recorded six sacks and broke up 10 passes. The Bisons had 223 yards on either interception or fumble returns and allowed only 224 total yards to Southwestern Oklahoma's offense.

The victory was Harding's fifth straight and lifted the Bisons to 5-3 overall and in the GAC. After losing its first three games, Harding is now only one game back of four Great American Conference teams tied for first at 6-2. Southwestern Oklahoma dropped to 2-6 and fell for the fifth straight game in Searcy.

How it Happened
Harding took a very unusual 4-0 lead, recording a safety on each of Southwestern's first two possessions. Southwestern took over on its own 1 on its first possession after a perfect punt from Harding's Tristan Parsley. On the third play of the drive, Harding defensive end T.J. Winslow sacked Southwestern quarterback Casey Freeman in the end zone.

On the second Bulldog drive, Southwestern faced 4th and 17 at their own 4. A bad snap on a punt trickled out the back of the end zone for the second safety.

Southwestern had a chance to take the lead on its third drive, reaching the Harding 2 before Bison linebacker Sam Blankenship forced a fumble that Dra Smith picked up at the 4 yard-line and returned 96 yards for a touchdown to give Harding an 11-0 lead with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

Harding's first of three offensive touchdowns came with 10:18 left in the second quarter. The Bisons drove 68 yards on eight plays following a punt, and scored on a 2-yard Tristan Tucker run that set the score at 18-0.

It looked as if that would be the halftime score, but Harding capitalized on a Southwestern fumble with 1:12 left in the half to tack on another touchdown, a 4-yard quarterback keeper by Terrence Dingle. The Bisons led 25-0 at the half.

Parlsey connected on his fourth straight field goal, a 40-yarder in the third quarter, to give Harding a 28-0 lead.

In the fourth, Harding had its last sustained drive, a 10-play, 53-yard effort that took 5:51 off the clock and resulted in a 2-yard Dingle touchdown.

Southwestern had a late scoring opportunity. The Bulldogs drove to the Bison 10, but Harding defensive back Brandon Brice intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.

Facts and Figures
Harding last shutout consecutive opponents in 1965, when it posted three straight shutouts over Millsaps (14-0), Ozarks (38-0), and Henderson State (7-0). The Millsaps victory was the last time Harding recorded a shutout on Homecoming.

Never in recorded history has Harding had two safeties in the same game.

Smith's 96-yard fumble return was the second longest in program history, behind only Jerry Mote's 99-yard return in 1960 against Ozarks.

Brice's 99-yard interception return was the second longest in program history, behind only Bershard Tillman's 100-yard return against Northeastern State in 1999.

Harding had never had two touchdowns of 90 yards or more in the same game.

Offensively, Harding rushed for 272 yards, the 55th time in the last 56 games to go over 200 yards rushing. Grant Kimberlin led the Bisons with 57 yards on six carries.

Southwestern had 87 rushing yards and 137 passing yards. Bulldog quarterbacks Casey Freeman and Tyler Marr combined to complete only 13 of 37 passes with three interceptions.

Harding broke up 10 passes, tied for second most in a single game. Sophomore linebacker Shedrick Robinson had three breakups.

Harding had six sacks, two each from Devyn Comer and Winslow.

Blankenship led Harding with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

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