The Bisons No. 1 ranked defense in the nation continued their impressive season on Saturday, forcing three turnovers and holding Southern Arkansas University’s high powered offense to 13 points.
Harding football rolled to a 56-13 win on Saturday Oct. 4 at First Security Stadium.
The Bisons defense held SAU to 391 yards of total offense, allowing just 150 of those yards in the second half. Harding gave up more yards in this game than in recent weeks, but limited SAU to more than 100 yards fewer than their season average of 518.
“We played outstanding tonight, firing on all cylinders,” junior cornerback Trendall Stevenson said. “People questioned if our defense has been tested this year and I think tonight the scoreboard showed how good we can be.”
SAU found success through the air, finding holes in the secondary and throwing for 259 yards. Harding’s defense found their first challenge of the season against the Muleriders high tempo offense.
“They pushed it on us, doing a lot of dig routes and pick routes making us work,” Stevenson said. “But the yards after catch is what killed us in this game.”
Stevenson said, senior quarterback Si Blacksire for SAU, was very elusive in the pocket and hard to keep contain and under control.
Harding has given up a total of 26 points in four games.
“We need to work on our small mistakes and have a short memory when we make those errors,” Stevenson said. “Moving forward we need to continue doing our job and dominating our opponents one game at a time.”
On the other side of the ball, Harding’s offense gained a season high 593 total yards of offense, averaging 9.9 yards per play.
“The key for us was to come out and win the hitting contest, that was number one,” senior running back Romo Westbrook said. “We came out and executed our game plan and everything else fell into place.”
Harding rushed for seven touchdowns on Saturday, one being a 76-yard sprint to the end zone by Westbrook early in the second quarter.
“I was able to get free because of our offensive execution up front on the line,” Westbrook said. “That only transfers to the wide receivers and their blocks downfield that helped open up a lane for me to score.”
Saturday’s win marked their eighth straight going back to last season. According to Harding Sports, it ties Harding’s 1972 and 1973 winning streaks.
Harding now sits atop the GAC as one of three undefeated teams remaining, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University being the other two.
“It feels great to be undefeated,” Westbrook said. “It gives us an extra boost to come out on top as each game becomes more important.”
The Bisons travel to Arkansas-Monticello University this coming Saturday Oct. 11 in Monticello, Ark. The next game at home for the Harding football team is Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. against Ouachita Baptist University at First Security Stadium.