DURANT, Okla. – Harding broke open a close game with three fourth-quarter touchdowns and defeated Southeastern Oklahoma 42-10 on Saturday in Great American Conference play at Paul Laird Field.
The victory gave the Bisons a 6-2 record overall and in conference play. Southeastern dropped to 2-7 overall and 2-6 in the GAC. Harding plays its final home game of the season next Saturday against East Central.
Harding’s defense completely shut down the Southeastern Oklahoma State running game and used its own methodical rushing attack to defeat the Savage Storm. The Bisons rushed for 267 yards, its lowest total since the season’s opening game, but limited the Savage Storm to only 24 yards on 26 carries.
Leading 14-7 at halftime, Harding opened the second half with an 11-play, 56-yard drive with junior Keenan Kellett scoring on a 1-yard run to give Harding a two-touchdown lead.
Following a 20-yard field goal by Southeastern’s Chris Peoples, Harding’s Donatella Luckett returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards. It took the Bisons 10 plays to cover the remaining 39 yards, but junior D’Nico Jackson-Best went off tackle for a 9-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 to give the Bisons a 28-10 lead with 13:38 left in the game.
Kellett led Harding on a 57-yard drive on the Bisons’ next possession with junior Romo Westbrook scoring from a yard out. Harding’s final score came after a Southeastern fumble that was recovered by linebacker Chris Sarkissian and returned to the 1-yard line. Alapeti Magalei rumbled in on the next play for the touchdown.
Westbrook led Harding’s rushing attack with 71 yards on 18 carries. Kellett added 67 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Harding scored five rushing touchdowns in the game to move its season total to 42, breaking the previous record of 38 set in 2011.
Harding’s defense sacked Southeastern quarterbacks six times, led by three from senior defensive end Daniel Riley. He became the first Bison with three sacks in a game since Jermaine Blanchard vs. Valdosta State in 2009.
Harding took a 7-0 lead on its only possession of the first half. After forcing a punt on Southeastern’s first drive, Harding took over on its own 2-yard line. Kellett led the Bisons on a 16-play, 98-yard drive that ate up 9:34 on the clock and scored on a two-yard run. It was his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. It was the Bisons’ longest drive of the season for plays, yards and time of possession.
Kellett struck again in the second quarter. He hit redshirt freshman Eric Kelly for a 36-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bisons a 14-0 lead with 6:29 left in the half. Kellett was 7-of-11 passing for 104 yards.
Southeastern’s only score of the first half came after an interception. The Savage Storm drove 83 yards in only 69 seconds with Sioson hitting Anthony Gale on a two-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the half.
Southeastern starting quarterback Nick Sioson completed 21-of-35 passes for 199 yards but was sacked five times.