Weevil Empire: Harding Bison Football hosts Arkansas-Monticello - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Weevil Empire: Harding Bison Football hosts Arkansas-Monticello

SEARCY, Ark. (HU) - Harding plays the first of three straight home games to close the season Saturday when it hosts Arkansas-Monticello at First Security Stadium in Searcy. Kickoff between the Bisons and Boll Weevils is at 2 p.m.

HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME

Live Streaming Video - presented by Harding Communications

Live Streaming Audio - presented by KVHU 95.3 (Scott Goode and Jerry Mote)

Live Stats - presented by the Harding Sports Information Office

COACHING MATCHUP

HARDING HEAD COACH RONNIE HUCKEBA

Alma Mater: Harding, 1978

4th Season at Harding: 15-22 (.405)

ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO HEAD COACH GWAINE MATHEWS

Alma Mater: Delta State, 1988

5th Season at Arkansas-Monticello: 21-42 (.333)

HARDING QUICK HITTERS

Harding plays the first of three straight home games to close the season Saturday when it hosts Arkansas-Monticello at First Security Stadium in Searcy. Kickoff between the Bisons and Boll Weevils is at 2 p.m.

Harding enters the game 3-4 overall and 1-4 in the GSC and is coming off a 33-28 loss to Henderson State last Saturday in Arkadelphia. The Bisons rushed for a season-high 362 yards on 52 carries, the eighth-most rushing yards ever by a Harding team.

Arkansas-Monticello enters game 3-5 overall and 2-4 in the GSC. The Boll Weevils have lost four of their last five and are coming off a 21-17 loss at 14th-ranked Valdosta State.

Harding enters Saturday's game leading the GSC and ranked second in NCAA Division II with 3.86 sacks per game. The Bisons have 27 sacks for losses of 151 yards. Senior defensive ends Jermaine Blanchard and Marcus Jones have 6.0 and 5.5 sacks, respectively.

Arkansas-Monticello, however, has allowed the fewest sacks of any GSC team and is 11th in Division II in sacks allowed. The Boll Weevils have only allowed eight sacks in eight games.

Harding is in its fourth season under head coach Ronnie Huckeba. Now in his 25th season as a coach at Harding, Huckeba has a 15-22 overall record as head coach. Under Coach Huck, the Bisons are 10-19 in conference games and 10-9 in home games.

Arkansas-Monticello leads the all-time series with Harding 24-22. The road team has had the best of the series. Harding leads 12-11 in games played in Monticello, and UAM leads 13-10 in Searcy.

Arkansas-Monticello has won the last three straight, including a 44-17 win last season in Monticello. The Boll Weevils have scored more than 40 points in each of their last three victories.

The teams have played eight previous games as GSC members with UAM leading the conference series 5-3.

Harding continues to lead the GSC in rushing offense, averaging 253.0 yards per game. That ranks seventh in NCAA Division II. The Bisons have rushed for 1,771 yards through seven games, which is more than Harding rushed in an entire season since 1997. Harding needs 229 rushing yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark for only the 10th time in program history.

Harding averages 4.7 yards per rush, second only to Delta State in the GSC. The Statesmen average 5.3 yards per carry.

The last time a Harding team averaged over 200 rushing yards per game was 1997, when the Bisons averaged 249.0 yards per game on the ground.

Harding has rushed for over 200 yards in a game in six of its seven games this season. The only game it fell short was against West Alabama, when the Bisons rushed for "only" 198 yards.

Harding's 362 rushing yards at Henderson State was the eighth-highest total in program history and the most in a game since the Bisons rushed for a school-record 429 vs. Arkansas-Monticello in 1975. Harding coach Ronnie Huckeba was the Bisons starting right guard in that game.

Harding has already had three different players rush for more than 100 yards in a game. Kale Gelles had 103 vs. Southern Arkansas, 181 vs. West Georgia, 115 vs. West Alabama, and 133 at Delta State. Jeremy Holt had 102 vs. Ouachita Baptist and 120 at Henderson State, and Chaz Rogers had 102 vs. Southern Arkansas.

Only two other times in program history has Harding had three different players rush for over 100 yards in a given year. In 2002, Dondtray Thomas, Robert Lolohea and DeJuan Patton each hit the 100-yard mark. It also happened in 1990 with Darrell Biggers, Richard Holmes, and Michael Gibbs. Harding has never had 100-yard games by four different players in the same season.

Junior Kale Gelles had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season at Delta State and leads the GSC and ranks 26th nationally with 103.29 rushing yards per game. Chris Pierson was the last Bison to average over 100 rushing yards per game for an entire season. He averaged 130.6 in 1997.

Pierson was also the last Harding player to rush for over 100 yards four times in a season, accomplishing the feat five times in 1997.

Gelles averages 5.20 yards per carry, the highest average per carry among any conference runner with 10 or more carries per game.

Harding's offense averages 33 minutes, 49 seconds of possession per game, 2nd in the GSC and 9th in Division II. Three times this season, the Bisons have had a time-of-possession margin of 14 minutes or more.

Harding has passed for the fewest yards in the GSC this season (774 yards), but has one of the most efficient passing offenses in the conference. The Bisons have an efficiency rating of 144.02, third in the conference and 32nd in Division II.

Harding has completed 48 passes this season, 10 of them for touchdowns. The Bisons have 15 completions for more than 20 yards, and eight of them for more than 30 yards. Harding is averaging 16.1 yards per completion.

Harding is one of only four teams in Division II that have thrown only one interception this season. The other three are Abilene Christian, Minnesota-Duluth and North Greenville.

Senior quarterback Josh Powell made his 15th career start for the Bisons against Henderson State. He completed 4-of-8 passes for 32 yards. Harding is 7-8 in games Powell starts.

Harding starts two of its most prolific wide receivers in school history. Kurt Adams, who missed all but two games last season with a knee injury, has 2,168 career receiving yards and a school-record 27 touchdown receptions. Jordan Watson has 1,863 career receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.

Adams has five of Harding's 10 receiving touchdowns this season.

Adams is tied for seventh in career receiving touchdowns in GSC history. He needs two more to reach Ellis Debrow of Delta State (2002-04) for sixth.

Adams is the only Harding receiver with over 2,000 receiving yards and more than 20 receiving touchdowns.

Jordan Watson recorded his third career 100-yard receiving game with 129 yards on four receptions vs. Ouachita Baptist. With that effort, he moved into fifth in career receiving yards at Harding. He needs 137 more receiving yards to reach 2,000.

Harding is second in the GSC and 10th in Division II in fourth-down conversions. The Bisons have converted 12-of-17 (70.6%) fourth-down attempts this season.

Through seven games, Harding's top offensive lineman is sophomore L.J. Tarrant. He leads the team with an average film grade of 80.3 and has a team-high 238 knock-out blocks. Tory Day is second in both categories at 78% and 214 KOs.

Tarrant led the offensive linemen in the Henderson State game. He had an 89% film grade and a team-high 39 knockout blocks.

Harding boasts one of the top defensive units in the Gulf South Conference. The Bisons rank fifth in total defense, fourth in rushing defense and third in scoring defense.

The most impressive aspect of the Harding defense this season has been its pass rush. The Bisons rank first in the GSC and second in Division II with 3.86 sacks per game. Harding has 27 sacks for 151 yards.

SACK STATS

· Harding has had at least 2.0 sacks in every game and has had three or more five times.

· The Bisons had a season-high 8.0 sacks vs. Lambuth.

· 12 different Harding players have been involved in a sack this season.

· Jermaine Blanchard leads Harding with 6.0 sacks, Marcus Jones has 5.5.

· Since the NCAA standardized sack stats in 2000, Harding's season-best sack total is 36 in 2002. The all-time record is 42 in 1987.

Harding ranks third in the GSC and eighth in Division II in run defense, allowing only 75.6 yards per game. Harding allowed only 41 yards on 34 carries by Henderson State, the fourth time this season Harding allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards. Ouachita Baptist rushed for 147 yards, the most allowed by Harding this season.

Harding's opponents average only 2.6 yards per rush and have scored only six rushing touchdowns. No Harding team has ever allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards per game over an entire season.

Harding's defense ranks 20th nationally in tackles for loss with 8.00 tackles for loss per game. The Bisons had 11.0 tackles for loss of 69 yards against Henderson State. It was the second time this season Harding had 10.0 or more tackles for loss. Jermaine Blanchard is Harding's tackle-for-loss leader with 9.5. Marcus Jones has 8.5, Mark Gutierrez-Durant and Jason Thomasson have 6.5. Sixteen different Bisons have at least 1.0 TFL.

Harding senior linebacker Jason Thomasson has a team-high 59 tackles this season and ranks fourth in the GSC with 8.5 tackles per game. He now has 242 tackles in his career and is only the sixth Bison since the NCAA standardized tackle stats in 2000 with more than 200 career tackles.

Eddie Russ, Jr., had two pass breakups at Henderson State to go along with a career-high eight tackles. Russ ranks fifth nationally with 1.71 passes defended per game. He has two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Russ is just four breakups away from the Harding school record of 14, set by Jermaine Cuffie and 1996.

James Feher and Marquale Pierson lead Harding with six special teams tackles. All six of Feher's have come on kickoff coverage. Jason Thomasson leads Harding with five tackles on punt coverage.

Through seven games, Harding has outscored its opponents 145-79 in the first three quarters but has been outscored 76-40 in the fourth quarter. Harding has allowed only 17 points in the third quarter this season.

Harding University Sports Information

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