Harding football won 55-15 on a rainy day at Convoy Leslie-Cotton Bowl Stadium against the University of Arkansas-Monticello (UAM). The 14th-ranked Bisons improved their record to 5-0 for the season with five games remaining on the schedule.
Harding jumped out to an early 21-0 lead after junior defensive lineman Lou Daranda picked up a fumble and returned it for a 15-yard touchdown, but UAM answered with 15 quick points to make a 21-15 game after a bad snap on a Harding punt gave Monticello a safety. Bisons answered with their third rushing touchdown of the day to pull back out to a two position game leading 27-15 right before the half.
The Bisons rushed for 454 yards on Saturday, which made up all of the team’s total yards on offense, throwing for negative 2 yards in the passing game.
“Our goal was to protect the football and keep our offense on the field and UAM’s off,” senior offensive lineman David Lee said. “We wanted to control the game and keep it on our hands.”
Lee said the conditions didn’t play much of a factor because they were prepared coming in, but said he did have to be cautious when snapping the play during the game.
Harding rushed for seven touchdowns on Saturday: three by senior quarterback Keenan Kellett and one by senior running back Romo Westbrook, who rushed for 150 yards on 19 carries.
“Our coaches had a really solid game plan for us to stick to throughout the game,” Lee said. “Our defense did a great job giving us the ball back and letting us control the clock with our running game.”
Harding’s defense surrendered 300 yards of total offense to UAM, most of those yards coming through the air. This was the second straight week the team allowed 200-plus yards in the passing game.
“We didn’t execute as well as we would of liked,” junior linebacker Daylan Skidmore said. “Monticello schemed us pretty good with screen passes and calling the right plays against the defense we were running for that situation.”
Although Skidmore said they didn’t play as well as he would have hoped, Harding still recorded six turnovers and held UAM scoreless in the second half. That made three straight weeks that the Bisons defense has held their opponent to zero points in the second half.
“I think we played very tough and hungry,” Skidmore said. “But we made some minor errors that played a role in their success that we need to clean up.”
Moving forward Skidmore said the team needs to execute, execute and execute. He said everyone needs to do his part as the championship is on the line the next few weeks.
The Bisons next game is Saturday Oct. 18 at home against Ouachita Baptist University at First Security Stadium. Kick-off is at 6 p.m.