Tigers beat Reddies in OT

ARKADELPHIA — In a fashion that has come to be expected in the Battle of the Ravine football series between cross-street rivals Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University, the Tigers rallied to erase a late 14-point deficit on Saturday and beat the Reddies 40-37 in overtime at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.

With the win, the Tigers (11-0) wrap up their fourth undefeated regular season in the last eight years, match a program best with six consecutive victories over HSU, and all but assure the team a home game in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs game next Saturday, September 19 at Cliff Harris Stadium.

The NCAA will host a selection show for the playoffs on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. central time live online at

Saturday’s game swung heavily in favor of the Reddies (8-3) with 4:47 remaining following a touchdown to put HSU up 34-20. However, the Tigers rallied for a quick score less than two minutes later to cut the deficit in half on a seven-yard touchdown catch by Connor Flannigan from quarterback Riley Harms. Harms spread the ball around to six different receivers on that drive.

The Ouachita defense forced a three-and-out on HSU’s next possession, which ended with a bad punt going out of bounds at the Tiger 49-yard line. Four plays later, Ouachita tied the score on a two-yard touchdown by TJ Cole with 1:19 remaining in regulation. That drive was aided by a 36-yard reception by Flannigan.

The Reddies answered by driving down the field and getting within field goal range with three seconds on the clock. HSU’s potential game-winning field goal missed right to set up overtime, the first extra period between the two squads since 2013.

HSU got the first possession in overtime, and stalled out thanks in part to a pair of broken up passes by the Ouachita defense. HSU regained the lead with a 28-yard field goal.

TJ Cole took over in the overtime period, getting a touch on eight of the nine offensive plays in the drive, including a six-yard reception on a third down play and a two-yard rush on a fourth-and-one. His most significant rush of the game was to follow on second-and-goal from the one-yard line, taking the direct snap and diving into the endzone for the game winner.

Both squads went blow-for-blow in the first three quarters with neither team leading by more than one score.

Cole started the scoring in the game, but not with his legs. Instead, he collected his second passing touchdown of the season with an 18-yard scoring strike to Justin Dean with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter. Gabe Goodman nailed a pair field goals in the second quarter, including a 36-yarder as time expired to tie the game at 13-13 heading into the break. Cole had the first of his three rushing touchdowns early in the third quarter, this time to give the Tigers at 20-13 lead.

Cole finished with 29 carries for 114 yards with three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. He moved up to No. 2 on Ouachita’s single-season rushing chart with a new total this year of 1,653, moving past Johnny Baker’s 1970 total of 1,614. He is now just 15 yards away from tying William Miller’s school record of 1,668 from 1978.

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