ARKADELPHIA — After coming from behind with just under two minutes left in the game, the Ouachita Baptist Tigers (5-1) watched Harding receiver Donatella Luckett take a slant route 74 yards to score the winning touchdown, as the Harding Bison (5-1) beat OBU 36-33.
The Tigers jumped out early in the first quarter to a 20-7 lead. On the fifth play of the opening possession, senior Chris Rycraw took a third-down-and-two handoff 52 yards for the games opening score.
Etauj Allen intercepted a pass on Harding’s first possession and returned it nine yards to the Harding 20 yard-line. Matthew Ehasz would kick a 36 yard field goal to increase the Tiger lead to 10-0.
After forcing a three and out on Harding’s next possession, junior quarterback Benson Jordan would connect on a 50-yard pass play to Ryan Perkins to put the Tigers back in the red zone. The Tigers offense would stall however and they would settle for a 25-yard field goal by Ehasz.
Harding would start their next drive on their own 39. Romo Westbrook would move the ball to the OBU 32 and on a second-and-five play would carry the ball 32 yards into the end zone for the first Harding score of the day.
With two minutes to go in the first quarter, Benson Jordan would connect on a wheel route with Chris Rycraw for a score. The 66-yard pass play would be the longest of the day for Jordan Benson and Rycraw.
The Bison would score the only touchdown of the second quarter on a 14 yard run by Ahmad Scott.
The second quarter was a series of three and outs and turnovers for both offenses. The Tigers would miss out on two red zone scoring opportunities. After junior defensive end Dave Fair recovered a Bison fumble on their 11 yard line, the Tigers couldn’t advance the ball and Ehasz would miss a 25 yarder, only his second miss on the season. Later in the quarter, senior linebacker Augustine Ume-Ezeoke would recover another Harding fumble. Jordan would lead the Tigers down to the Harding 11, where a sack and forced fumble would give the ball back to the Bison. Tigers led at the half, 20-14.
Harding would receive the second-half kickoff and score on their opening drive. Romo Westbrook’s second touchdown of the day from 18 yards out would put the bison up 21-20. The Tigers would respond and move the ball to the Harding 13, but Jordan would be intercepted and the Tigers would miss out on another red zone opportunity.
The Tiger’s defense would force Harding to punt on their next two possessions and with 2:10 left in the third quarter, Jordan would find Ryan Perkins on a 15 yard slant route for the touchdown. The Tigers would attempt a two-point conversion play, but the Bison would pick off the pass and return for a two point score. The Tigers would lead 26-23.
Harding would start the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown by Jason Oller to put the Bison up 30-26. After trading possessions, Benson Jordan would lead the Tigers on a seven play, 74 yard drive. He would go 5-7 and complete his second touchdown pass of the day to Ryan Perkins. Tigers would take the lead 33-30 with 1:50 left to play.
Harding would start their drive on their own 24. After a shirt two yard run, Harding quarterback Keenan Kellet would find Luckett on a short slant and Luckett would go 74 yards for the touchdown and put Harding up 36-33. OBU would have one last possession, but a Jordan desperation pass would be intercepted on fourth down to end the game.
For the Tigers, Benson Jordan went 23-42-3 for 422 yards and three touchdown passes. It was a season high in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Receiver Jalen Jones had eight catches for 150 yards. Ryan Perkins had four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Rycraw would finish the day with 70 yards rushing, 66 yards receiving and two scores.
Andrew Gendi and Zack Mitchell would lead the OBU defense with seven tackles each. Dave Fair finished with five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery.
Redshirt freshman Daylan Skidmore led Harding in tackles for the second straight game, collecting 13 tackles, including a tackle for loss. Sophomore linebacker Jordan Cantrell had five tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble.
The Tigers will travel to Russellville next Saturday to take on Arkansas Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Harding returns to Searcy next Saturday for Homecoming 2013. The Bisons’ opponent will be nationally-ranked Henderson State with a 2 p.m. kickoff at First Security Stadium.