Bison defense keys win over SAU

MAGNOLIA, AR - The Harding defense produced its best effort of the season and redshirt freshman quarterback Chaz Rogers threw two touchdown passes to senior Zac Ross to lead the Bisons to a 26-16 victory over Southern Arkansas on Saturday in Gulf South Conference play.

The victory for Harding (3-3, 1-2) was its fourth straight over Southern Arkansas and its first road win for the Bisons since a 31-24 victory over the Muleriders on Oct. 20, 2007.

Harding limited Southern Arkansas to only 294 total yards and senior defensive back Josh Jones intercepted three passes. It was the ninth time in program history that a Harding defender had three interceptions in a game and the first since Robert Towns picked off three passes against Southern Arkansas in 2006.

Harding's previous best defensive effort was 377 yards allowed to Missouri Southern in the season opener.

After a scoreless first quarter, Harding junior Micah Canterbury kicked a 43-yard second quarter field goal, and Rogers later threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Zac Ross to culminate an 11-play, 80-yard drive.

The Bisons led 10-0 at halftime, as Harding's defense limited Southern Arkansas (1-4, 1-3) to only 114 total yards. It was the first time the Bisons held an opponent scoreless in a half on the road since a 2002 shutout at West Georgia.

Southern Arkansas got on the board with 8:46 left in the third quarter on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Austin Civita to Raphyael Tyson.

Two possessions later, Harding answered with a 9-play, 77-yard drive that ended on Dominic Blood's two-yard touchdown run. The key play of the drive was a 35-yard pass from Rogers to Ross that took the ball down to the SAU 2. Harding led 17-7.

SAU kicker Noe Coevas hit a 37-yard field goal with 9:49 left in the game to cut the advantage to 17-10.

Ross caught his second touchdown pass from Rogers on a 16-yard strike with 6:26 left in the game. Southern Arkansas blocked the extra point, and Harding led 23-10.

After Jones returned his third interception of the game to the SAU 8, Canterbury booted a 32-yard field goal to make it 26-10.

Civita hit Jamar Lincoln on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 3:04 left in the game. The two-point conversion run was no good.

Rogers, who entered the game in relief of Harding starter Josh Powell on the second possession, completed 19-of-34 passes for 236 yards. Ross caught both touchdown passes and totaled seven receptions for 112 yards, his second-career 100-yard receiving game. Rogers also led the team in rushing with 65 yards on 19 carries.

Harding totaled 373 yards of total offense and did not have a turnover for the first time this season.

The Bisons are back on the road next Saturday at Ouachita Baptist. Kickoff in Arkadelphia is at 1:30 p.m.