The Oklahoma Baptist University football team snagged the early lead and never looked back as it held off the Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs for a 35-21 win on Saturday afternoon in their home finale at Crain Family Stadium at the Hurt Complex.
The win is the 10th straight over teams from the state of Oklahoma.
OBU racked it up on the offensive end, going for 494 yards of total offense including 316 through the air. The Bison had 26 first downs and were not in third down situations very often, finishing 2 of 6 on the day.
On the other side, SWOSU went for 362 yards of total offense including 218 through the air. The OBU defense held SWOSU to 2-of-9 on third down and 1-of-3 on fourth down.
OBU opened the contest with the football and proceeded to go 65 yards in seven plays including big 19-yard completions from Preston Haire to Jacques Henderson and Joshua Cornell. Haire was 6-of-6 on the drive and capped it with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Shae Garner for the 7-0 lead.
SWOSU then marched down the field, using the running game to get into Bison territory. The Bulldogs got on the board with a trick play as Justin Bailey took a flip out and threw on the run to Alex Ramirez for a 33-yard score to even the game up.
OBU marched right back down the field as Haire continued to light up the Bulldog defense, including a 21-yard run into SWOSU territory. Haire then completed a 22-yard pass to Noah McGraw to get deep into the red zone. A few plays later in the wildcat formation, Blake Riley took the handoff and the defensive tackle found paydirt from two yards out to make it a 14-7 game.
The two teams exchanged possessions going into the second quarter including a missed 46-yard field goal by the Bulldogs. However, SWOSU got it back with great field possession and went 42 yards in five plays as Jared Rayburn took a jet sweep and turned up for the 5-yard score to even the game back at 14.
OBU marched down the field again behind good runs from Isaiah Mallory and completions to Keilahn Harris and Cornell. OBU worked it inside the 5-yard line where Tyler Stuever found the end zone for the first time in the game from three yards out to move OBU ahead, 21-14.
The Bison got a stop and took over at their own 13 after a punt. Stuever found daylight and took off 87 yards to the house to move OBU ahead 28-14 towards the end of the half.
However, SWOSU got another score, again taking advantage of good field position as Jermaine Mask took it in from a yard out to make it a 28-21 game going into the break.
SWOSU took their first possession and moved down the field, executing one fourth down conversion and facing another one at OBU's 38-yard line. Donnell Hawkins appeared to have the first, but Peter Popoola forced the ball lose and Felipe Alvear scooped up the loose ball for a huge takeaway.
Both teams staggered on the offensive front until the fourth quarter as OBU went on a 10-play, 65-yard drive which included a beautiful completion from Haire to Harris to move to the SWOSU 22. However, OBU would turn it over and SWOSU would take over on its own 7-yard line.
However, the Bison defense stepped up again as Josh Arnold came through with a huge hit, forcing a fumble and recovering it to give the Bison the ball back at the SWOSU 13-yard line. A few plays later, OBU made it a 35-21 game as Stuever ran it in from four yards out.
From there, SWOSU had a pair of opportunities to cut into the deficit, but the Bison defense stood tall again and pitched a shutout in the second half to give OBU the 35-21 win on Senior Day.
Haire was 30-of-37 passing or 316 yards and a touchdown while also adding 22 yards on the ground. Stuever ran nine times for 119 yards and three scores while Ruben Thompson added three carries for 26 yards. Harris led all receivers with eight catches for 93 yards while Henderson caught six passes for 73 yards. Cornell caught five for 54 yards and became the first OBU receiver in school history with over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
Tyler Marr went 15-of-27 for 185 yards while Mask added nine carries for 51 yards and a score. Justin Bailey caught five balls for 79 yards to lead SWOSU receivers.
Defensively, Arnold finished with nine tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Trajan Lands added seven tackles and two quarterback hurries while Alvear had three tackles and a fumble recovery. Joshua Redmond had a sack on the afternoon.
For SWOSU, Jalen Carr had a pair of interceptions while Landis Morris had eight tackles. Rahzel Young had six tackles and a sack.
The Bison improved to 6-4 on the year and secured their first ever winning season since becoming members of NCAA Division II and the Great American Conference. They will close the regular season next Saturday against Southern Nazarene. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Bethany.
OBU will look to "Take State" with a perfect season over Oklahoma teams for the second straight year.