SEARCY - The Harding football team used a formation normally reserved for the 1-yard line a little further out Saturday to score the game-winning touchdown and defeat Henderson State 27-22 on Homecoming at First Security Stadium.
The formation is called "Heavy" and appropriately so, as the Bisons use 10 linemen (weighing nearly 3,000 pounds) on the play, seven offensive linemen and three defensive tackles, along with running back Dominic Blood. With the Bisons trailing 22-21 and less than three minutes left in the game, Harding's Heavies opened up a touchdown-sized hole for Blood on 3rd-and-4 from the Henderson State 10-yard line that gave Harding the victory.
The victory was the sixth straight for Harding (5-5, 3-4 Gulf South Conference) in Searcy over Henderson State and moved the Bisons to 33-16-2 all-time on Homecoming.
Harding trailed 10-7 at halftime, but Bison sophomore Jeremy Holt scored on a 41-yard screen pass with 13:42 left in the third to give his team a 14-10 lead. Harding scored again just over a minute later as redshirt freshman Kennard Henderson recovered a Henderson State fumble at the 50-yard line and returned it for a touchdown to put the Bisons ahead 21-10.
It was the first turnover returned for a touchdown by the Bisons this season.
Henderson State (3-6, 3-4) then began to chip away at the lead with three consecutive scores. Jazz Scott caught a 4-yard touchdown pass with 3:39 left in the third. On Harding's first possession of the fourth quarter, the officials spotted a holding penalty on the Bisons in the end zone that resulted in a safety, and Harding's lead was cut to 21-19. A 33-yard Blake Allan field goal with 6:00 left put the Reddies on top.
Henderson State used a bruising running game that allowed the Reddies to hold a 22-minute, 22-second time-of-possession advantage over the Bisons. Henderson State had the ball for over 42 minutes and ran 82 plays to Harding's 49.
Reddie tailback Kenard Springer rushed 32 times for 171 yards and a touchdown but lost two fumbles, including the one returned for a touchdown. Henderson State rushed for 237 yards on 54 carries.
Harding welcomed junior quarterback Josh Powell back to the huddle after missing the last three games with a knee injury. Powell connected on 19-of-29 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior Zac Ross compiled 181 all-purpose yards, including 86 receiving yards on four catches, and moved past Joe David Smith (1971-75) into second place on Harding's career all-purpose yardage chart.
Harding had several defensive standouts in the game. Henderson, a native of Texarkana, Texas, had a career-high 14 tackles and a forced fumble to go with his touchdown return. Senior Josh Jones had 11 stops and three pass breakups, and junior Eddie Russ, Jr. had six tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception and two pass breakups.
The Bisons will look to close out the season with a winning record next Saturday as they host Arkansas Tech at First Security Stadium. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.