By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
MONTICELLO — The 11th-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team was firing on all cylinders on Saturday with a 34-0 road win over Arkansas-Monticello.
The win marks Ouachita’s first shutout victory of the season, the first since beating East Central 42-0 in week four of the 2018 season. Saturday’s win over UAM (4-3) also secures the 13th consecutive winning regular season for the Tigers (6-1).
Looking at the big picture, Ouachita’s win on Saturday moves the Tigers into a four-way tie for first place in the Great American Conference standings following Harding’s 46-21 over previously unbeaten Henderson State. Ouachita, HSU, Harding, and Southeastern Oklahoma State are all 6-1 following week seven.
All but three of Ouachita’s points came in the first half on Saturday.
After forcing a three-and-out on UAM’s game-opening possession, the Tigers took advantage of good field position following a bad punt by the Weevils. TJ Cole capped a seven-play, 39-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown to start the scoring with 9:42 remaining in the opening quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, Kendel Givens scored his 16th touchdown of the season, this time from one yard out to cap another 39-yard drive, again set up by a short punt.
To start the second-quarter scoring, Grant Allen found Tucker Swoboda for a 58-yard touchdown pass and catch to put the Tigers up 21-0.
TJ Cole’s number was called for the next Tiger score, this time breaking free for a 69-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. It was the longest run of Cole’s career at Ouachita.
Gabe Goodman put the Tigers up 31-0 at halftime with a 21-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. Goodman was responsible for Ouachita’s only score in the second half, which was a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The shutout was preserved by the Ouachita defense in the fourth quarter with the Weevils driving inside the red zone. Ouachita’s Melvin Kumwenda forced and recovered a fumble to give the Tigers the ball back with just over eight minutes remaining. Ouachita proceeded the run 13 plays and picked up four first downs over the next eight minutes to seal the victory.
The Tigers finished the game with 59 rushes for 301 yards, marking the third straight game with at least 300 rushing yards, and fourth overall this season. TJ Cole led the way individually with 20 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Ouachita was all over the UAM backfield in Saturday’s win. The Tigers combined for 12 tackles for lost yardage and a season-high five quarterback sacks. Anthony Freeman was in on two of those sacks. Freeman also had a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry to his credit in the win.
Ouachita is back in action next Saturday, October 23 at home against Southern Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cliff Harris Stadium.