By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA — The oldest rivalry in NCAA Division II and one of the most unique rivalries in all of college sports is set for its 94th edition this Saturday when the Ouachita Baptist University football teams hosts Henderson State University in The Battle of the Ravine.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 13, at Benson-Williams Field at Cliff Harris Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on YouTube by the Ouachita Sports Digital Network. The Ouachita Football Radio Network will broadcast the game throughout the state of Arkansas on its affiliate stations with the pregame show beginning at noon. Links to live coverage can be found at www.OBUtigers.com/coverage.
Just like in previous seasons, a standing-room only crowd is expected on Saturday. General admission tickets are available online here https://bit.ly/3qjH0QU through Thursday at midnight. Online tickets can be picked up on Saturday at the will call window starting at 9 a.m. Other general admission tickets can be purchased Saturday for $8 upon arrival at the stadium.
#20/16 OUACHITA TIGERS
Record: 8-2 (8-2 GAC, Tied for 3rd)
Last week: Southeastern Okla. 35, @Ouachita 21
National Rank: 20/16 (AFCA/D2FB)
Regional Rank: 10
Head Coach: Todd Knight
Knight Career: 159-130-2 (28th season)
Knight at OBU: 131-98 (22nd season)
Picked No. 1 in GAC preseason poll
#13 HSU REDDIES
Record: 9-1 (9-1 GAC, Tied for 1st)
Last week: HSU 36, @Oklahoma Baptist 34
National Rank: 13/13 (AFCA/D2FB)
Regional Rank: 6
Head Coach: Scott Maxfield
Maxfield Career: 146-70 (20th season)
Maxfield at HSU: 117-58 (16th season)
Picked No. 3 in preseason GAC poll
WHAT’S AT STAKE…
· CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: A win for Ouachita and a loss by Harding to Arkansas Tech clinches a share of the Great American Conference championship for the 2021 season, which would be Ouachita’s fourth consecutive GAC title and sixth overall. A win for HSU clinches at least a share of the GAC title for the Reddies, which would be the fourth GAC crown in program history.
· NCAA PLAYOFFS: A win for HSU all but assures the Reddies a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs. HSU is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Super Region Three rankings. Ouachita is ranked No. 10. A win for the Tigers puts Ouachita back into consideration as the top seven in the region advance to the playoffs.
· BRAGGING RIGHTS: The Battle of the Ravine is arguably the most unique rivalry in all of college sports. Ouachita enters the game with a one-game lead in the series at 44-43-6. The Tigers have won four in a row, including a 24-21 victory in the last meeting in 2019. The series began in 1895, the oldest rivalry in NCAA Division II, and has been making headlines ever since with prank wars, national television broadcasts, goal line stands, overtime games, and standing room only crowds.
· NINE-WIN SEASON: A win over HSU this Saturday would be the seventh season of at least nine wins in Ouachita football history. Four of the six previous nine-win seasons have come recently, making the current senior class the winningest class in Ouachita history. Ouachita’s nine-plus win seasons include: 1948 (9-2), 1975 (9-2), 2014 (10-1), 2017 (9-3), 2018 (12-1), and 2019 (11-1). As it stands now with Ouachita at 8-2, the 2021 Tigers are the 14th team in program history with at least eight wins.
OUACHITA KEY TEAM STAT RANKINGS
15th in D2, 2nd in GAC in fourth down defense (30.4 percent opponent conversion rate)
7th in D2, 1st in GAC in net punting (37.97 yards per punt)
16th in D2, 1st in GAC in pass defense (152.1 yards allowed per game)
9th in D2, 1st in GAC in punt return (17.2 yards per return)
3rd in D2, 2nd in GAC in rush offense (290.6 yards per game)
4th in D2, 2nd in GAC in sacks allowed (0.5 per game)
OUACHITA KEY INDIVIDUAL STAT RANKINGS
TJ Cole – 10th in D2, 1st in GAC in all-purpose yards (156.2 yards per game)
TJ Cole – 10th in D2, 1st in GAC in rush yard average (6.8 yards per carry)
TJ Cole – 5th in D2, 1st in GAC in rushing yards (144.8 yards per game)
TJ Cole – 6th in D2, 3rd in GAC in rushing touchdowns (15)
Kendel Givens – 1st in D2, 1st in GAC in total and rushing touchdowns (22)
Kendel Givens – 1st in D2, 1st in GAC in scoring (13.8 points per game)
Kenta Jones – 2nd in GAC in passes defended (1.1 per game)
Anthony Freeman – 5th in GAC in tackles for loss (1.1 per game)
Hayden Lassiter – 3rd in GAC in interceptions (0.3 per game)
Terrell Gibson – 2nd in GAC in forced fumbles (0.2 per game)
Xaylon Falls – One of four players in D2 with two kickoff returns for a touchdown
TJ Cole’s 1,448 rushing yards this season ranks third all-time at Ouachita for a single-season. Ahead of him is Johnny Baker’s 1,614 yards in 1970 and William Miller’s school record of 1,668 yards in 1978. Cole is averaging 144.8 yards per game this season, so an average game against HSU would leave him 75 yards shy of the record, not counting any postseason games should the Tigers qualify for the playoffs or get invited to a postseason bowl game.
Kendel Givens needs three rushing touchdowns on Saturday to tie the single-season Ouachita record of 25 by Brockton Brown in 2019. Givens has proven he is capable of that kind of performance with five three-touchdown games already this season in his freshman campaign.
Kendel Givens has accounted for 138 points this season between his 22 rushing touchdowns and three two-point conversions. That point total ranks third at Ouachita for a single-season. Another three touchdown performance would tie Drew Harris’ record of 156 in 2017.
Xaylon Falls has two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, a rare feat that has forced opponents to kick away from him. His average of 35.1 yards per return, if holds would break the Ouachita record for a single-season, which is currently 32.1 yards per return by Jeremy Young in 2009.
THE LAST TIME VS. HSU
November 16, 2019 // Ouachita 24, HSU 21 // Cliff Harris Stadium
Down 21-17, Ouachita drove 74 yards and scored with 35 seconds remaining to beat the Reddies by three. Brayden Brazeal threw for 223 yards with Allie Freeman as his top target with seven receptions for 74 yards. Ouachita outgained HSU 392-306. Dameyun McDonald highlighted the defensive performers with six tackles, two sacks, one pass breakup, and one forced fumble.
SCOUTING REPORT: HENDERSON STATE
The Reddies are tied for first place in the GAC with Harding. Both teams head into the final week of the regular season at 9-1. Henderson’s only loss was to Harding, which spoiled the Reddies homecoming by a final score of 46-21 on October 16. The Reddies nearly recorded their second loss of the year this past Saturday, if not for a last-second game-winning field goal for a 36-34 road win over Oklahoma Baptist. HSU sports one of the nation’s top offenses, averaging 42 points and 505 yards per game, led by quarterback Adam Morse, who is fifth in the nation and tops in the GAC with an average of 313 yards through the air per game. His top target this year has been L’liott Curry, who ranks second in the nation with 14 receiving touchdowns. Curry is third in the country with an average of 122 receiving yards per game. Scott Maxfield is in his 16th season across the street with 12 winning seasons, four conference championships to his credit, and three seasons of at least 10 wins.