Game Notes: Undefeated Harding Takes on Undefeated Southern Arkansas
Sports - Harding Bison
Game Story Two of the three undefeated teams in the Great American Conference meet Saturday at 6 p.m. at First Security Stadium as Harding hosts Southern Arkansas. The Bisons have wins over Oklahoma Baptist (38-7) and Southern Nazarene (63-7), and the Muleriders have defeated Southwestern Oklahoma (21-17) and Northwestern Oklahoma (33-14).
In the latest AFCA poll, Harding received 52 points and is one spot outside the top 25. The Bisons are not ranked in the d2football.com poll but are ranked 34th by MasseyRatings.com and 40th by HeroSports.com. Southern Arkansas is No. 49 on MasseyRatings.com and No. 83 on HeroSports.com.
Harding has opened the season 2-0 for third time in the last four seasons.
The Bisons enter the game ranked second in NCAA Division II with 366.9 rushing yards per game and 14th in rushing defense with 105.7 yards allowed.
Harding was picked second in the Great American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. The coaches selected Southern Arkansas fifth in the 12-team conference. Henderson State was the preseason favorite.
Up Next Harding goes on the road to meet Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday, Sept. 24. Kickoff at Convoy-Leslie Stadium is at 6 p.m. Harding has won the last five meetings, including the last two in Monticello.
The Coaches Harding's Ronnie Huckeba is in his 10th season as head coach and 31st on the Bison staff. He has a 58-39 career record, including 49-30 in GAC games. Huckeba has announded that 2016 will be his final season. Defensive coordinator Paul Simmons will be the head coach beginning in 2017.
Bill Keopple is in his eighth season at Southern Arkansas and has a 35-39 overall record. He is a 1982 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas.
Series History Harding and Southern Arkansas are playing for the 53rd time with the Bisons leading the series 26-25-1. The Muleriders hold the series lead in Searcy 14-11-1, but Harding has won the last 10 meetings overall and the last four at First Security Stadium.
Home/Road Records Saturday's game against Southern Arkansas is the second of six home games. The Bisons are 32-15 at home under coach Ronnie Huckeba and 16-4 in its last 20 home games. Harding won its first home game this season 38-7 over Oklahoma Baptist. Southern Arkansas won its only road game of the season 21-17 at Southwestern Oklahoma.
Last Meeting Harding defeated Southern Arkansas 70-42 last season in Magnolia in the highest-scoring game in GAC history at the time. The two teams combined for 42 points in the fourth quarter. The Bisons rushed for 566 yards and nine TD.
Park Parish rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries and three TD, and fullback Matt Tenison carried 12 times for 111 yards and two TD. Barrett Renner passed for 381 yards to lead Southern Arkansas.
Streaks, Trends and Records Offense: Harding ranks second in Division II with 433.5 rushing yards per game, fifth in scoring offense with 50.5 points per game and leads the division with 38:27 time of possession.
Defense: Harding leads NCAA Division II in total defense, allowing only 124.0 total yards per game. Harding has allowed fewer than 10 yards on 15 of its opponents' 23 drives. The Bisons also lead the nation with 64.5 passing yards allowed per game.
Harding has rushed for 168 TD and allowed 30 over the last three-plus seasons. The Bisons' 12 rushing TD are three more than any other team in Division II.
Corey Bassett's 100-yard kickoff return TD vs. Southern Nazarene was the longest in school history and one of only two 100-yard returns this season in Division II.
Harding's 67 yards allowed vs. Southern Nazarene are the fewest in a game in Division II this season.
Senior quarterback Park Parish has 28 career rushing TD and needs six more to become Harding's career leader. He ranks third among active Division II quarterbacks in career rushing TD.
Senior defensive end Trevon Biglow ranks 10th among active Division II players with 17 career sacks.
Against Oklahoma Baptist, Harding did not allow a rushing first down and against Southern Nazarene did not allow a passing first down.
A Quick Look at Southern Arkansas Southern Arkansas is one of only three teams in the GAC with a 2-0 record. The Muleriders boast the third-best rush defense in the conference, allowing only 122.5 yards per game.
Southern Arkansas has forced seven turnovers in its first two games, the most in the GAC.