ARKADELPHIA — In spite of heavy pre-game rain and a surprisingly stout first half run defense for the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers, the Tigers’ rushing attack came alive in the second half and the Tigers earned an impressive Homecoming win over the Rangers 45-21.
An early third quarter 52-yard touchdown run by Chris Rycraw broke the game wide open. Rycraw was held in check for the first half gaining 39 yards on 13 carries for a 2.7 yard-per-carry average. He dominated the second half finishing with 163 yards on 26 carries, 3 rushing touchdowns and a 6.3 yard-per-carry average.
Two-time GAC Defensive Player of the Week Antwion Patterson led the Tigers with seven tackles and added two more sacks to his conference leading total. He now has seven this season.
Ouachita started the game right out of the gates when running back Steven Kehner took the opening kickoff back 89 yards for a touchdown. The Rangers responded with an opening drive that would take them down to the Ouachita 11 yard line. The Tiger defense would stop Northwestern there, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs. The teams would trade possessions and then with 5:02 left in the first quarter, NWOSU quarterback Reid Miller would find Davontaa Bryant for a 22 yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 7-7.
Ouachita would get the only other score in the first half when Kehner would cap off a 12 play, 62-yard drive with a touchdown run from a yard out. OBU led 14-7 at the half.
After a three and out by the Rangers to start the third, Rycraw would break off his longest run of the day and score his first of three touchdowns. Northwestern Oklahoma responded right back. In less than minute after the Rycraw run, Reid Miller would go to the air again, finding Mervin Stewart who turned a short crossing route into a 58 yard touchdown reception. The Rangers would miss the extra point attempt. With over nine minutes remaining in the third Ouachita was leading 21-13.
The Tigers would dominate the remainder of the third and most of the fourth quarter scoring 24 unanswered points. Rycraw would score on runs of 12 and seven yards. Matt Ehasz would add a 27-yard field goal and Brandon Marks, who rushed for 70 yards in the fourth quarter, would notch the Tigers final score with a touchdown run of five yards with 5:13 left to play.
The Rangers would score again at the 2:38 mark of the fourth quarter. Miller would pass for his third touchdown of the day, when he found Reginald Harris in the end zone. Harris would also catch the two-point conversion from Miller as well. Ouachita would possess the ball until time expired with a final score of 45-21.
For the Tigers, quarterback Benson Jordan would finish 17-24 for 180 yards. Freshman receivers Ke’Vontae Pope and LaVontae Thomas led the team in receiving. Pope had six catches for 62 yards and Thomas caught three passes for 78 yards.
On defense, linebacker Rickey Brown had six tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Defensive end Dave Fair had three tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss. As a team, the Tigers had four sacks and nine tackles for a loss on the day.
The Tigers are at home again next week when they’ll face the Harding Bisons. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm at A.U. Williams field.