By BRIAN RAMSEY | OBU Sports Network
EL DORADO — The fourth-ranked Ouachita Baptist University football team hit the 60-point mark for the third time of the season on Saturday, beating Southern Arkansas 63-31 in El Dorado at the Murphy USA Classic.
With the win, Ouachita moves to 8-0 for just the fifth in program history and holds on to a two-game lead in the Great American Conference standings with three games remaining in the regular season.
The Muleriders (3-5) went score-for-score with the Tigers in the first quarter before reigning GAC offensive player of the week TJ Cole took over. Cole scored three consecutive rushing touchdowns from midway through the first quarter to the midway point of the second quarter to give the Tigers a 28-14 lead, while the defense held SAU to just a field goal in the second quarter.
Ouachita scored on a 58-yard passing touchdown from Riley Harms to Connor Flannigan with 2:48 remaining in the second quarter to finalize the first half scoring and give the Tigers a 35-17 advantage at the break. Harms opened the game’s scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run at the 11:27 mark of the first quarter.
Cole ended up finding the endzone three more times in the second half, and finished the game with 25 carries for 230 yards and six touchdowns. It was his second straight 200-yard rushing performance, and his six rushing touchdowns set a new school record. He missed out on the overall touchdown single-game record by just one. Drew Harris had four rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns against Henderson State in 2017. Cole’s six rushing touchdowns against SAU also tied the GAC single game record.
Backup quarterback Eli Livingston accounted for the final Ouachita score, breaking free for an 18-yard touchdown run of his own with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
With Cole’s six touchdowns in the game, his career total vaults up to 41, moving him into third place all-time at Ouachita. He is now two rushing touchdowns away from tying the record of 43 held by Brockton Brown (2016-19).
In addition to Cole’s performance, Kendel Givens and Cole Flannigan also hit triple digits. Givens had 19 carries for 101 yards. Flannigan finished with seven receptions for 109 yards. Harms finished the game 10-for-13 passing for 142 yards. As a team, Ouachita had 53 carries for 377 rushing yards.
Ouachita’s defense came up with two key takeaways in the second half on fumbles, held SAU to just 3-for-6 in red zone scoring, and held SAU to just 5-of-13 on third downs.
The Tigers look ahead now to hosting East Central on Thursday, October 27 at Cliff Harris Stadium. ECU comes into the game at 6-2 following a 42-28 win over Southwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday at home in Ada. Thursday’s kickoff is set for 6 p.m. It will be Ouachita’s Senior Day with a recognition ceremony to be held prior to the game. It will also be Ouachita’s final home game of the regular season.