SHAWNEE - The Oklahoma Baptist football team will take on their second straight Top 25 team as they head to Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia to take on the fifth-ranked and two-time defending GAC Champion Ouachita Baptist Tigers. The game will be featured on OBUBison.com with the duo of Todd Miller and John Brooks.
OBU saw their three-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to No. 22 Harding, 50-33. Despite a terrific offensive effort against the top-ranked defense in the nation, Harding racked up 492 yard on the ground to pull away from the Bison in the fourth quarter.
HAIRE CONTINUES TO SHINE
Week after week, quarterback Preston Haire continues to prove that he is one of the best quarterbacks in NCAA Division II as he carved up last week's No. 1 defense in the country to the tune of 282 passing yards and four passing scores on 23 of 33 passing. He also added a touchdown on the ground. Coming into the game, Harding had given up 32 total points in five games. Haire and the offense put up 33.
The numbers don't lie for Haire as he is third in the country in completions per game (24.50), fourth in points responsible for (140), fifth in total offense (347.0), fifth in passing touchdowns (18), and 12th in passing yards (1,665).
BEST IN THE COUNTRY
One primary reason for OBU's success this season is the OBU offense is currently No. 1 in the country in sacks allowed at 0.33, tied with Truman and West Texas A&M. With how much the Bison throw the ball, OBU has done a terrific job protection their quarterback. Additionally, OBU is No. 2 in the country in turnovers lost with only four this season. The Bison only trail their opponent this upcoming week, Ouachita, who has turned the ball over three times on the year. Haire has only thrown three interceptions on the season with the other turnover coming on a fumble.
The other standout on the OBU side is from breakout wide receiver Josh Cornell, who had another unreal game on Saturday afternoon with eight catches for 150 yards and two scores. Cornell helped jump start the offense in the second quarter after falling behind 14-0 as he caught a touchdown pass to cut the deficit in half. He added a second on in the fourth quarter on a 46-yard catch-and-run for six.
Cornell comes is fourth in the country in receptions per game (8.3), fourth in receiving yards (701) and receiving yards per game (116.8), and seventh in touchdown catches (8).
The slow starts continued for OBU going into Saturday as they found themselves trailing Harding 14-0 in the quarter before fighting back and even taking the lead in the second half, 21-20. The Bison have been notorious slow starters as their opponent has scored first in every contest this season. The Bison are being outscored 49-14 in the first quarter, but outscore their opponent 85-60 in the fourth quarter, which they have trailed going into in five of their six games this season. OBU trailed 21-0 to Henderson State (lost 35-28), 14-0 to Southern Arkansas (lost 30-28), 14-0 to Southeastern (won 34-31), 7-0 to East Central (won 50-41), and 21-0 to Arkansas Tech (won 43-31) in the first half.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
OBU's struggles have been felt on the defensive side of the ball as they are currently last in the GAC in total defense. Felipe Alvear is coming off a career-high in tackles against Harding (14) and Josh Arnold is currently 20th in the country in total tackles (10.5 per game), but the Bison are struggling to get stops consistently despite sporting an impressive turnover margin. OBU will need something from the defense, who has allowed 50 or more points to the Tigers in the last three meetings.
It'll be a tall test for the Bison as they take on Ouachita side that has won 22 consecutive GAC games dating back to the 2017 season. The Tigers are currently No. 5 in the country and have not suffered defeat since losing to Harding at home, 17-14. Ouachita has had a few close calls in 2019, just edging Harding at the start of the season as well as a close 26-21 win over SWOSU at the end of the September.
Ouachita has won the last two GAC Championships and has won four total since the league formed in 211, the most in league history just edging out cross-town rival Henderson State with three and Harding with one.
TOP TIER OF THE GAC
OBU's offensive numbers continue to impress as they lead the GAC in scoring offense (36.0), total offense (437.2), passing offense (275.8), sacks against (2), and first downs (22.8). They are second in the conference in third down conversions at (48.4) and third in passing efficiency (146.3). Similar to last week, OBU will get a great test against a very good defense in Ouachita who is second in the GAC in scoring defense, just behind Harding.
HOMECOMING NEXT WEEK
Next weekend will be Homecoming for the Oklahoma Baptist Bison as they welcome in Arkansas-Monticelllo to Crain Family Stadium at the Hurt Complex at 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
Coming into Saturday's contest, the 22nd-ranked Harding Bisons defense came in with the No. 1 defense in the country while allowing only 32 total points this season. On a cool Saturday afternoon at Crain Family Stadium at the Hurt Complex, the Bison offense racked up nearly 300 yards through the air and put 33 points on the board. Harding was able to outlast OBU, taking a 50-33 win thanks to a 23 point fourth quarter.
Oklahoma Baptist found themselves in a 14-0 hole thanks to a huge time of possession advantage, but got it going in the second quarter to make it a 20-14 game at the break. The Bison took a 21-20 lead in the third quarter, but Harding bounced back and pulled back ahead. Just as it seemed the Bison were going to get within one score again, a blocked PAT that went for two made it a two possession game and OBU could never recover in the loss.
The Bison finished with 357 total yards, averaging nearly six yards per play. OBU had 20 first downs and was 7 of 12 on third down. Unfortunately, the lethal Bisons rushing attack was in full effect as they racked up 548 total yards including 492 on the ground. Harding was a staggering 11 of 13 on third down and 2 of 2 on fourth.
Preston Haire finished 23 of 33 with 282 yards and four scores as well as 41 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown. He completed a pass to nine different receivers on the night including his main target, Josh Cornell, who caught eight passes for 150 yards and two scores. Shae Garner added three catches for 38 yards while Paul had two catches for 24 yards and two scores.
Defensively, Felipe Alvear led the way with 14 tackles and two tackles for loss while Josh Arnold had nine tackles, one tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. Marcko Lucas added six tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Last week for Ouachita, the Tiger defense put their foot on the gas pedal in one of their best games this season, only allowing 173 yards and three points. The Tiger offense stepped up big too, scoring 24 points in the first half. Ouachita would end up winning the game over East Central, 31-3.
Brockton Brown scored three touchdowns and rushed for 89 yards, averaging 9.4-yards per touch. TJ Cole rushed for 46 yards averaging 5.1-yards per touch and Shun'cee Thomas rushed for 34. Brayden Brazeal went 14-20 for 207 yards and a touchdown. Tight End Hunter Swoboda reeled in two passed for 51 yards and a touchdown. Hayden Waller had three catches for 47 yards and Allie Freeman caught seven passes for 37 yards.
Hunter White led the Tigers on the defensive end with five solo tackles and two tackles for a loss. Austin Guymon, and Keandre Evans both added five tackles, Guymon also accounted for a sack. The Tigers secondary was stingy against East Central's passing attack. For the second game in a row Hayden Lassiter accounted for an interception.
Last season, Oklahoma Baptist posted 21 points against the top scoring defense in NCAA II, but fell to No. 5 Ouachita Baptist 58-21.
Tyler Stuever rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns and Preston Haire ran for another. Haire completed 19 of 32 passes for 236 yards.
Brockton Brown ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns in the opening quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
The Tigers torched the Bison for 454 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, seven different Tigers rushed the ball on the day. Kris Oliver finished the game with 92 rushing yards on 13 attempts, freshman TJ Cole ran for 61 yards and his second career touchdown.