Here comes the BOOM: Unbeaten Harding and Southern Arkansas meet in Boomtown Classic
October 5, 2012 at 9:50 AM CDT - Updated June 28 at 8:55 AM
From Harding University
Harding's undefeated football team will take on another undefeated foe Saturday in the Boomtown Classic, hosted by the city of El Dorado, Ark., and sponsored by Murphy Oil.
Harding, who is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Great American Conference, will meet Southern Arkansas, also 4-0 and 3-0 in the GAC, for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium in El Dorado.
It will be only the second time that a 4-0 Harding team has played another undefeated team. In 1972, Harding opened 4-0 and defeated previously unbeaten Ouachita Baptist (3-0), 27-19.
The game will also be only the fifth neutral site game ever played by Harding. The Bisons are 3-1 in the four previous neutral site games. Harding won the 1972 Cowboy Bowl in Lawton, Okla., against Langston (30-27) and lost the 1976 Shrine Bowl in Pasadena, Texas against Abilene Christian (22-12).
In 1993, Harding played Ouachita Baptist at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, winning 25-7. Harding's most recent neutral site game was in 1997, when the Bisons played Arkansas Tech in Alma, Ark., because Tech's stadium was under construction. Harding won the game 28-10.
Harding enters the game unranked in the American Football Coaches Association poll despite leading Division II in both rushing offense and total defense.
Harding's rushing game averages 368.0 yards and has rushed for more than 250 yards in 10 straight games dating to last season. The Bisons have also scored at least one rushing touchdown in 20 straight games.
The Bisons rushed for 381 yards in its 31-14 victory over East Central on Saturday in Harding's home opener. Senior quarterback Kelvin Martin led the team with 117 rushing yards on 24 carries and all three Bison touchdowns. It was his third career 100-yard rushing game. Sophomore fullback Romo Westbrook had 92 rushing yards on 18 carries, and junior slotback Ty Finley had 84 yards on five carries.
Harding's top-ranked defense was also on display last week. The Bisons allowed only 84 total yards to the Tigers, including only 20 passing yards. East Central had only 14 total yards in the second half.
Harding yields a Division II-best 172.25 yards per game and leads the nation with only 3.10 yards allowed per play. The Bisons also lead Division II in both passing defense (77.0 yards per game), have only allowed more than 100 passing yards in a game once this season, and are the only Division II team that has not allowed a passing touchdown.
Harding and Southern Arkansas are meeting for the 49th time with the Mulerider holding a 25-22-1 advantage. Harding has won the last six meetings dating to 2006.
Last season, Harding defeated Southern Arkansas 63-14 in the opening game of the 2011 season. The Bisons took a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and led 35-0 at halftime. Harding had interceptions by Jasper Bodiford and B.J. Jones returned for touchdowns. Harding led 49-0 before Southern Arkansas' first touchdown with 13:46 left in the game.
Harding rushed for 515 yards and seven touchdowns in the game. Kale Gelles had 171 rushing yards and Chaz Rogers had 110.