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College Football: HSU, OBU set for battle

The No. 4 Henderson State Reddies will put its perfect record on the line as it partakes in the shortest road trip as it travels across the street to face Ouachita Baptist in the 87th meeting between the two teams Saturday at 2 p.m. at A.U. Williams Field.

The Reddies (10-0 overall, 9-0 GAC) remained at No. 4 in the AFCA Poll and is only one of six unbeaten teams in NCAA Division II. Henderson moved up to No. 3 in the latest Super Region 3 rankings.

Ouachita Baptist (7-2, 7-2) defeated UA-Monticello 35-10 last week. The Tigers’ offense is led by quarterback Benson Jordan, who has completed 168-of-267 passes for 1,989 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Last year, Jordan was 12 of 26 for 104 yards against the Reddies.

OBU sports the GAC’s leading running back, Chris Rycraw, who is averaging 107.5 yards per game. Rycraw has 860 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He had just 69 yards against Henderson State last season.

The Tigers are led by Augustine Ume-Ezeoke and Antwoin Patterson on defense. Ume-Ezeoke has 64 tackles, including six for a loss. Patterson, who has earned GAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, has 56 stops with a team-high 14 tackles for a loss — of which half are sacks.

Henderson State clinched its second straight GAC championship with a 66-24 win against Southern Arkansas. The win guaranteed post-season play for the Reddies in either the NCAA Division II playoffs or a spot in the Texarkana United Bowl on Dec. 7.

Henderson’s offense averages a GAC best 569.4 yards and 51.14 points per game.

Kevin Rogers averages 378 yards passing per game and has thrown for 30 touchdowns. At the last meeting against OBU, Rogers was 15 of 26 for 209 yards and one TD.

Keaton Stigger paces the Reddies and leads the GAC with 111 stops and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Stigger is also used in short-yardage situations and has 23 carries with 13 touchdowns.

The “Battle of the Ravine” is the oldest rivalry among current NCAA Division II institutions. Henderson leads the series by two games, 41-39-6, as the first game was played in 1895. The series officially began in 1907, which was the second game between the schools. The Battle was discontinued from 1951 to 1962, but remained uninterrupted from 1963-93 until Henderson State made the first leap to Division II. The series began again in 1996 and both teams were a part of the GAC in 2000, but did not meet in 2004 and 2005 due to scheduling by the conference.

Henderson State’s biggest win against OBU was 62-0 in 1932. The Tigers’ largest margin of victory was 66-0 in 1919.

Last season, the Reddies won 42-7 in front of a record crowd of 12,035 for Henderson State’s third consecutive win over OBU. Henderson State led 21-0 after the first quarter and 35-7 by halftime.

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