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No. 7 Harding Rolls in Division II Playoffs with 30-14 win in opening round

Bisons win 30-14 over Washburn Saturday.
Bisons win 30-14 over Washburn Saturday.(KATV)
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 9:26 PM CST
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SEARCY, Ark. (KAIT) - In No. 7 Harding’s most dominant demonstration of ball-control offense this season and possibly ever, the Bisons ran 93 plays to only 36 for No. 24 Washburn and defeated the Ichabods 30-14 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Harding (11-1), in its fifth straight NCAA Playoffs appearance, advances and will host Northwest Missouri State next Saturday at 1 p.m. at First Security Stadium. Northwest Missouri, the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 6-seed Central Washington 50-21 Saturday in Maryville, Missouri.

Ninety of Harding’s 93 plays came on the ground with a school-record 41 carries going to senior fullback Cole Chancey, who finished with 176 yards and a TD. Junior slot back Omar Sinclair also topped the century mark with 110 yards on 14 carries.

Harding had six drives in the game of 10 plays or more, and the defense forced Washburn (9-3) to punt on its first five possessions.

A 12-play, 79-yard drive on Harding’s first possession ended with a 1-yard TD run from quarterback Preston Paden. Paden threw a 54-yard TD pass to Roland Wallace in the second quarter for Harding’s other first half TD.

Sophomore kicker Grant Ennis added 29-yard and 45-yard field goals, the second coming on the last play before halftime.

Washburn’s only points in the first half came on a 97-yard kickoff return from James Letcher, Jr., cutting Harding’s lead to 10-7 at the time. The Bisons led 20-7 at the half.

Chancey’s 66th career rushing TD ended a 15-play, 74-yard drive on Harding’s first possession of the second half that gave the Bisons a 27-7 lead. His 41 carries broke the previous record of 40, set by Mike Vanlandingham against Henderson State in 1978.

Washburn cut the lead to two scores as Letcher struck again. He scored on a 15-yard pass from Mitch Schurig early in the fourth quarter.Another Ennis field goal, this one from 37 yards out, with 7:11 left put the game away.

Harding, the leading rushing team in Division II, rushed for 419 yards, the sixth time this season to go over 400.The Bisons’ 90 carries breaks the previous record of 79 at Southern Nazarene in 2012 and was the most in a Division II game this season.

Conversely, Washburn rushed only eight times, the fewest ever by a Harding opponent. The Ichabods had -2 yards. Zach Willis was the leading rusher with 3 yards on two carries.

Schuring was 12 of 28 passing for 214 yards and the TD to Letcher, who had four receptions for 76 yards.

Harding’s victory was its 14th straight at home and its 10th straight overall. It was also the Bisons’ sixth NCAA Division II Playoffs win.

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