SEARCY, AR (HARDING) - Harding rushed for 369 yards and three touchdowns but managed only two field goals in the second half and fell 45-30 to No. 5-ranked Henderson State in Great American Conference action on Homecoming Saturday at First Security Stadium.
Harding dropped to 5-2 overall and in the GAC with the loss and goes on the road next Saturday at Southeastern Oklahoma in Durant. Henderson State improved to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in conference play with its 21st straight regular season victory.
Harding had first-half touchdown runs by Keenan Kellett (2 yards), Jason Oller (44 yards) and Romo Westbrook (4 yards), and took a 24-21 lead with 7:44 left before halftime on Westbrook's score. Westbrook carried 30 times for 161 yards, marking only the fourth time in program history a Harding player rushed for over 100 in four consecutive games.
Henderson State capitalized on big plays in the first half, including a 70-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Rodgers to Darius Davis on their first play from scrimmage. Corey Chappell ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and Rodgers connected with Robert Jordan on two touchdown passes, the second of which gave Henderson State a 28-24 lead going into halftime.
Harding had 244 rushing yards at the break, but the Henderson State defense limited the Bisons to 155 yards on the ground in the second half.
Rodgers threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game to open the scoring in the second half. He hit Jordan on an 11-yard completion to put the Reddies ahead 35-24. Harding did not score in the third quarter, and Henderson State added a 34-yard field goal by Charles Gonsalves that gave the Reddies a 38-24 lead.
Harding mounted drives of 10 plays and 14 plays in fourth quarter, but both drives resulted in 41-yard John Gay field goals.
Henderson State closed out the scoring with a 1-yard run by Daniel McCoy with 1:38 left.
Westbrook became the first Harding player with 30 or more carries in a game since Z.C.O. Uhatafe carried 33 times against Southeastern Oklahoma in 1983.
Harding quarterback Keenan Kellett completed 9-of-20 passes for 117 yards. Junior wide receiver Donatella Luckett made a season-high eight catches for 87 yards, rushed four times for 26 yards, and returned four kickoffs for 59 yards, giving him 172 all-purpose yards in the game.
Rodgers completed 19-of-26 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Davis led the Reddies with five catches for 142 yards and a touchdown.