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Tigers turn to Harms in victory over Muleriders

by Erick Taylor | September 17, 2023 at 2:16 a.m.

ARKADELPHIA -- Ouachita Baptist ensured there'd be no last-minute heroics this week for Southern Arkansas.

Riley Harms threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half to stake the Tigers out to a lead it wouldn't let go of in running past the Muleriders 52-24 on Saturday night at Cliff Harris Stadium.

The victory was the seventh in a row for OBU (3-0, 3-0 Great American Conference) over its in-state foes -- the longest winning streak for the Tigers in a series that began in 1912. It was also OBU's 15th consecutive win in league play.

"That's a good team over there," OBU Coach Todd Knight said of SAU. "In that first half, we had to stay wide open because [SAU] was scoring a little bit, and we weren't tackling very good. It was kind of a penalty-fest too, and that's unusual for us.

"But in the second half, we cleaned it up a little bit and did what we had to do to win the football game. That meant we had to run the ball a little bit when we got up."

Kendal Givens ran 26 times for 101 yards for OBU, but Harms was a major reason why the Tigers were able to finally pull away from SAU (2-1, 2-1). He was 12 of 23 for 243 yards, with most of his damage coming over the first two quarters. However, it was the effectiveness of OBU's rushing attack that made a big difference after halftime.

Givens had three touchdowns and notched 75 of his yards in the third and fourth quarters.

The Muleriders did have some success in slowing down OBU on the ground early, which is something it didn't experience in last year's meeting. The Tigers ran for 377 yards, with 230 of that coming from then-senior running back T.J. Cole. Givens also had 101 yards in that game as well, but the running lanes weren't as wide Saturday until the second half.

That shifted more of the onus on Harms, who delivered.

"He's a leader," Knight said of his quarterback. "He's invested in what we do, and nobody prepares better than him. He's the Russell Wilson, he's the Peyton Manning for us.

"I'm just so proud of him because of the way he prepares and the way he leads our football team."

Harms threw for a career-high 283 yards with four touchdowns during a victory at Southwestern Oklahoma State on Aug. 31 and was 10-of-10 passing with three more scores a week ago in a 66-0 trouncing of Northwestern Oklahoma State. In his team's toughest test so far this season, the Nebraska native was just as effective when he had to be.

He completed 6 of his 7 pass attempts in the first quarter, one of which was an 11-yard touchdown to Garrison Jackson. In the second quarter, he had just three completions, but two of those also resulted in scores.

But SAU, which battled back from a 17-3, fourth-quarter deficit last week to beat East Central (Okla.) in overtime, never folded and managed to stay close.

The Muleriders didn't have any problems scurrying down the field on their first drive. SAU ate up 75 yards while using just over four minutes of game time on a possession that ended when Jariq Scales muscled his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.

OBU charged back with scores on consecutive marches, first on Givens' 3-yard run and then on Jackson's grab, to take a 14-7 lead. The Muleriders tied it with 11:21 to go in the second quarter with a nifty 7-yard touchdown pass from O.B. Jones to Matthew Whitten only to see OBU re-establish its margin a little over a minute later on Connor Flannigan's 66-yard scoring catch.

The Tigers did take advantage of a few breaks over the final nine minutes of the half to build their cushion. Scales had a 68-yard touchdown run called back because of offsetting personal foul penalties. Then after climbing within 28-21 on a 5-yard scoring run from Kayden Roach and getting a key stop on the Tigers' next series, the Muleriders fumbled the resulting punt, which was recovered by OBU with 1:28 left in the first half. Both of those mishaps eventually led to touchdown catches by Carter McElhany and Givens that helped put OBU up 35-21 at halftime.

The teams would exchange field goals over the first 18 minutes of the second half before Givens virtually put the game on ice with a 3- and 12-yard touchdown runs over the final 7:34 of the game.

"This was a big win for us," Knight said. "At halftime, the message was all about us. We knew we had to tackle better, eliminate of the penalties and try to take the ball away. I thought the guys responded, and that's what helped us pull out this win."

Jones finished 26 of 38 for 268 yards with 1 touchdown for the Muleriders, who were outgained 437-424. He also had 67 yards rushing.


The Reddies stopped the Wonder Boys on fourth down at HSU 20 with 1:54 remaining and held on to take the win at Thone Stadium in Russellville.

After pulling within 27-24 on Taye Gatewood's 4-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Tanis with 7:01 left, Arkansas Tech held the Reddies on downs at the Wonder Boys' 31 with 4:22 left. Gatewood then hit Joyrion Chase for 33 yards to the HSU 29. But on fourth and 1 at the 20, Jordan Edington was stopped for no gain by Jakobe Shell and Zach Dixon.

The Reddies punted back to the Wonder Boys with 31 seconds left. Gatewood was sacked twice and was intercepted by Josh Brown on the last play of the game.

Henderson's Andrew Edwards passed for 256 yards and 1 touchdown and also rushed for 89 yards and 1 score on 15 carries. Jaquarion Turner ran for 79 yards and 1 touchdown on 17 carries and Korien Burrell had 74 yards on 10 carries. Timieone Jackson had 10 catches for 66 yards and a score.

Gatewood passed for 248 yards and three scores, including a pair to Tanis, who had four catches for 90 yards. Matthew Rivera finished with four catches for 85 yards and a score.


The Bisons rushed for 424 yards and held the Boll Weevils to 34 in rolling to the victory at First Security Bank Stadium in Searcy.

Harding (3-0), which built a 35-12 halftime lead, scored seven rushing touchdowns and 13 Bisons recorded rushing attempts, led by Jhalen Spicer, who had 76 yards and 1 touchdown on 5 carries, and Josh Strickland's 71 yards on 4 carries and Andrew Miller's 67 yards on 10 attempts.

Blake Delacruz also had 23 yards and 3 touchdowns on 5 carries. Braden Jay, Tyler Ross and Cole Keylon also ran for Harding scores.

Demilon Brown completed 18 of 32 passes for 183 yards and 1 touchdown to lead UA-Monticello (2-1). He hit Arlie Lee with a 28-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Lee also had a a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Print Headline: Tigers turn to Harms in victory over Muleriders


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