The Bisons improved their record to 3-0 with a 58-0 victory over Southern Nazarene University on Saturday Sept. 27, in Bethany Okla.
The story line this week was similar to ones in the past; Harding’s No. 1 ranked Great American Conference defense controlled the game by allowing only 42 total yards and keeping SNU from scoring any points.
Harding made SNU one-dimensional by giving up a season-low four yards rushing. SNU did not find much success in the passing game either totaling just 38 yards passing with one interception.
“The way we attack, teams can’t run on us,” sophomore defensive lineman Cordell Zalenski said. “They have no choice but to pass, and when teams start to pass is when we get interceptions.”
Bison defense finally shut out their opponent for the first time this season after being very close in previous weeks. Harding gave up six points against Southwestern Oklahoma State University and seven points against Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Zalenski said it’s always a goal to shut a team out. He said they now that they have done it, they know how it feels and will look to find a way to achieve this goal again.
The Bisons defense has given up just 13 points in three games this season, but Harding looks to improving their already impressive defensive group.
“There is always room for improvement in certain areas,” Zalenski said. “We can always pursue better, get more sacks, fly to the ball, stop the run; if a team gets three points one game, we want to give up less the next game.”
Zalenski said they will continue to take the approach of the season one game at a time.
Harding’s offense put up an impressive 511 yards, 462 coming from rushing led by senior Romo Westbrook, who had 16 carries for 81 yards Saturday.
Harding rushed for eight offensive touchdowns against SNU; two by sophomore slot back Zach Shelley, who had 4 carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Shelley has rushed the ball 11 times for 171 yards so far this season, scoring four touchdowns the last two games for the Bisons.
“It feels good that I had two touchdowns,” Shelley said. “But honestly just getting the ‘W’ is all I care about.”
Harding offense scored three early first quarter touchdowns. The first came on the second play on offense for Harding: senior Ahmad Scott ran for a 55-yard touchdown giving the Bisons an early 7-0 lead. Harding’s longest drive was 11 plays for 81 yards, finishing with a rushing touchdown by Shelley.
“I think the offense did exceptional well (Saturday),” Shelley said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and we’re not where we want to be yet.”
Shelley said the Bisons can continue to improve by staying humble and to keep working hard.
The win Saturday night marked the 300th win for Harding’s football program. The Bisons next game is a home game against Southern Arkansas University at 6 p.m.