Press Release from Harding University Athletics
MARYVILLE, Mo. – Harding scored its only touchdown on a 6-yard pitch to Tristan Tucker with just over a minute left in its NCAA Division II Playoff game at Northwest Missouri State. Harding’s potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt, also on a pitch, came up just short and the Bisons fell 7-6 in a defensive classic.
The loss ended Harding’s season at 10-2, its fourth straight season with nine or more wins. Northwest Missouri will host Lindenwood next week. Lindenwood defeated Ouachita Baptist 41-38 in Arkadelphia.
Northwest Missouri scored on its first drive of the game, going 75 yards on nine plays and picking up three first downs before Braden Wright hit Kyle Raunig in the center of the end zone on a 4-yard TD pass.
It was all defense for the rest of the game. Northwest had 12 more drives, none longer than 35 yards, and Harding forced nine punts. Of the other three drives, one ended on a missed field goal, one ended on downs and the other ended the game.
Northwest entered the game averaging 46.6 points and 453.6 yards of total offense. Harding’s defense limited the Bearcats to one score and 205 yards. The Bisons had 10 tackles for loss, including five sacks.
Northwest’s defense was also solid. Harding rushed for a season-low 151 yards, gaining 63 of them on the final drive of the game. Starting quarterback Preston Paden played the first series for Harding but gave way to backup Robert Wilcke after suffering an injury. Wilcke led Harding with 64 rushing yards on 20 carries.