By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA — The sixth-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team has its final road trip of the 2021 regular season this Saturday, October 30 against East Central.
Kickoff this Saturday is set for 2 p.m. at Koi Ishto Stadium in Ada, Oklahoma. The Ouachita Football Radio Network will take the air at 1 p.m. for the pregame show. ECU will provide live video and live statistics. Links can be found at OBUTigers.com/coverage.
#6/7 OUACHITA TIGERS
Record: 7-1 (7-1 GAC)
National Rank: 6/7 (AFCA/D2FB)
Head Coach: Todd Knight
Knight Career: 158-129-2 (28th season)
Knight at OBU: 130-97 (22nd season)
Picked No. 1 in preseason GAC poll
EAST CENTRAL TIGERS
Record: 5-3 (5-3 GAC)
National Rank: Not ranked
Head Coach: Al Johnson
Johnson Career: 13-19 (4th season)
Johnson at ECU: Same
Picked No. 6 in preseason GAC poll
13 CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS
Ouachita is in the midst of its 13th consecutive winning season, a streak that began in the 2008 season. The Tigers have recorded five Great American Conference championships during the streak, and have qualified for the NCAA playoffs in four of those seasons. This past Saturday’s win over Southern Arkansas gave the Tigers their 26th season with at least seven wins.
A LOT AT STAKE
The final three weeks of the 2021 season are crucial for Ouachita’s chances of winning its fourth consecutive GAC championship and qualifying for the playoffs. Ouachita’s opponents in the next three weeks are a combined 18-6 this season. All three currently have winning records, and two of the final three opponents are in the regional rankings this week. As it sits now, Ouachita would be left out of the NCAA playoffs with its No. 8 spot in the initial regional rankings released this past Monday. The top seven teams in each region advance to the playoffs at the end of the regular season. With Ouachita’s challenging schedule ahead, three wins would all but assure a postseason berth.
The initial NCAA Division II regional rankings were published this past Monday. D2 football is comprised of four super regions. The top seven from each region make up the playoff bracket. Ouachita is represented in Super Region Three, which consists of teams from the GAC, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference, the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and the Mid-America Athletic Association. SR3’s rankings this week are:
1. Ferris State
3. Grand Valley State
5. Northwest Missouri State
6. Henderson State
10. Southeastern Okla.
The complete rankings can be found at ncaa.com/rankings/football/d2/regional-rankings.
OUACHITA KEY TEAM STAT RANKINGS
2nd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in net punting (39.88 yard average)
3rd in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in rushing offense (292.6 yards per game)
3rd in NCAA, 1st in GAC in turnovers lost (5 total)
4th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in sacks allowed (0.5 allowed per game)
8th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in 4th down defense (75 percent stops)
9th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in punt returns (17 yards per return)
11th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in pass defense (137.6 yards allowed per game)
12th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in kickoff returns (25.92 yards per return)
15th in NCAA, 3rd in GAC in scoring offense (38.5 points scored per game)
16th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in scoring defense (16.2 points allowed per game)
OUACHITA KEY INDIVIDUAL STAT RANKINGS
TJ Cole – 14th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in all-purpose yards (141.88 per game)
TJ Cole – 14th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rush yards per carry (6.56 yard average)
TJ Cole – 11th in NCAA, 4th in GAC in rushing touchdowns (10)
TJ Cole – 6th in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing yards (131.1 yards per game)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in rushing and total touchdowns (19)
Kendel Givens – 1st in NCAA, 1st in GAC in scoring (15 points per game)
Xaylon Falls – One of three players in NCAA D2 with two kickoff returns for touchdowns
Kenta Jones – 26th in NCAA, 2nd in GAC in passes defended (1.3 per game)
Anthony Freeman – 1st in GAC in sacks (0.75 per game)
OUACHITA RECORD WATCH
Kendel Givens is currently tied for fourth for rushing touchdowns in a single season. The record is 25 by Brockton Brown in 2019.
Kendel Givens is currently in fifth place for points scored in a single season. The record is 156 by Drew Harris in 2017.
Xaylon Falls’ kickoff return yard average of 37.22 would break the school’s single-game record if it holds. The current record is 32.1 by Jeremy Young in 2009.
THE LAST TIME VS. ECU
October 12, 2019 // Ouachita 31, ECU 3 // Koi Ishto Stadium // Ada, Okla.
Ouachita outgained 407-173, held a 37:43-22:17 advantage in time of possession, and limited ECU to just two third down conversions in route to its sixth win of the 2019 season. Brayden Brazeal threw for 207 yards and a touchdown and Brockton Brown rushed for 85 yards and three touchdowns.
East Central (5-3) is having its best since 2015 when the program was also 5-3 heading into week nine. All five of ECU’s wins have come against teams in the bottom half of the GAC, including a 44-34 victory over winless Southwestern Oklahoma State this past Saturday on the road. The losses for ECU this year have come against Harding (28-0), Henderson State (59-24), and Oklahoma Baptist (47-20). ECU is one of the few schools to play a spring schedule this past year following the cancellation of the 2020 fall schedule due to COVID-19. The Tigers went 2-0 in the spring with wins over Southern Nazarene (35-28) and NCAA D1 Tarleton State (21-14).
24th MEETING WITH THE TIGERS
Ouachita leads the all-time series 18-5. The series began in the 1947 and 1948 seasons with Ouachita coming away with wins both years. The two squads met every year from 1988-1999, and then resumed the series in 2011 as charter members of the GAC. Ouachita has won seven games in a row over ECU, and has outscored the Tigers 118-17 in the past three matchups.