ARKADELPHIA -- Ouachita Baptist University rushed for 303 yards during Saturday's 35-7 victory over the University of Indianapolis in the second round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs.
Nothing too surprising about that, considering OBU came into the game as the seventh-ranked rushing team in Division II (275.3 yards per game).
But the Tigers (12-0) also made pivotal plays in the passing game in front of 2,228 at Cliff Harris Stadium, and it helped OBU advance to the quarterfinals next Saturday against Ferris State (13-0) in Arkadelphia.
"They beat us in every facet of the football game," Indianapolis Coach Bob Bartolomeo said. "It was a total beat down. They were a better football team today than we were.
"They blocked better, tackled better, threw it better."
The Tigers threw it better, or at least more, than the Greyhounds thought they might.
Bartolomeo said he knew OBU redshirt freshman quarterback Brayden Brazeal (14-of-19 passing, 164 yards, 2 TDs) was capable of making plays in the passing game, but the Greyhounds (10-2) were more concerned about Brazeal the scrambler than Brazeal the passer.
"We were scared silly of that quarterback," Bartolomeo said. "He had made most of his plays, not by throwing the ball, but by running."
OBU changed things up with 2:36 to go before halftime, the ball at its 20 and holding onto a 14-7 lead. The Tigers put their seldom-used-but-often practiced two-minute drill into action.
Brazeal peppered the Greyhounds defense with completions of 3, 5 and 9 yards, with a couple of runs thrown in, before the Tigers faced second and 12 at their 47 with 42 seconds to play in the half.
Drew Harris made a jarring catch over the middle for 15 yards, and Indianapolis was called for roughing Brazeal, putting the ball at the OBU 23.
It looked like the Tigers might settle for a Cole Antley field-goal attempt with the clock running down and Harris sitting on the bench after limping off the field, but a 13-yard pass from Brazeal to Lamar Haynes gave OBU a first down at the Indianapolis 10. After a 2-yard gain on first down, Harris limped back onto the field.
Brazeal dumped a ball to Harris, who was crossing the field from left to right, and he made a successful dive for the pylon to give OBU a 21-7 lead with four seconds to play in the half.
"Senior year," Harris said. "You got to gut those out. I fell on my knee, banged it up. Just rubbed some dirt on it, went back out there and made a little play."
Bartolomeo said it was much more than that.
"We played them right down to the last whistle there in the first half," OBU Coach Todd Knight said. "Sometimes, our 2-minute drill can be dangerous."
Bartolomeo said it was the game's decisive sequence.
"It broke our spirit, more than anything else, going into the locker room," he said.
OBU struck for a 64-yard touchdown pass from Brazeal to Kris Oliver out of the backfield with 12:07 to play in third quarter, and a 63-yard scoring run by Shun'cee Thomas (8-98 rushing, 1 TD) with 9:47 to go in the third quarter.
"I think we did have some success in the first half slowing down the run a little bit," Greyhounds linebacker Cole Sigmund said. "We were starting to feel hot. We started to get on a roll a little bit. Then they marched down the field throwing the ball, and that took the steam out of us."
The pass to Oliver, the Great American Conference's all-time rushing leader, was the finishing blow.
"That's me all the way," Sigmund said. "We were ready for that ball. We had covered it every time. We were so focused on not letting the quarterback run, I didn't run with it. It was just selfish of me."
The victory, the first for OBU in the Division II playoffs, was not a surprise to Tigers Coach Todd Knight.
"I feel like we peaked a little three weeks ago against Southern Arkansas, and I think we continued to play good football today in all three phases," Knight said. "They played a total team in OBU today."
Knight got no argument from Bartolomeo.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence," Bartolomeo said. "Good football team."
Bartolomeo was particularly fond of Harris, the senior from Benton who has battled a sore knee throughout the season and came into Saturday's game with just two touchdowns after scoring 26 in 2017.
"He's a special guy," Bartolomeo said. "We had tapes of him early in the year when he was healthy. He's something to be reckoned with."
Harris (4-39 receiving, 1 TD; 3-22 rushing, 1 TD) didn't disappoint Saturday, scoring the Tigers' go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard run to give OBU a 14-7 lead with 10:15 to play in the first half.
Harris, in the Wildcat formation, handed the ball to Brockton Brown for a 5-yard gain on the previous play.
"They said run it again, run it again," Harris said. "But I saw them crashing down on him. Brockton had no idea I was going to pull it out. And I fell in the end zone."
Brown (10-69 rushing, 1 TD) scored OBU's first touchdown on a 3-yard dive from the Wildcat with 7:54 to go in the first quarter.
Indianapolis scored on a 32-yard pass from quarterback Jake Purichia to a wide-open Aaron Matio to tie the game with 12:51 to play.
Brown brought the Tigers back down the field with the first of OBU's three explosive plays, a 43-yard run that ended with a stiff-arm attempt of a Greyhounds defender at the Indianapolis 20.
"The stiff arm, I wish it would have been a little better, but it is what it is," said Brown, a junior from Sheridan. "I'm going to hear about that one from pops a little later."
FERRIS STATE AT OUACHITA BAPTIST
WHAT NCAA Division II quarterfinals
WHEN Saturday, time TBA
WHERE Cliff Harris Stadium, Arkadelphia
RECORDS Ferris State 13-0; Ouachita Baptist 12-0
NCAA Division II playoff glance
NOV. 17 GAMES
Hillsdale 40, Kutztown 26
Slippery Rock 20, LIU Post 14
New Haven 35, West Chester 28
Wingate 41, West Georgia 31
Indianapolis 38, Fort Hays State 27
Ferris State 21, Harding 19
Northwest Missouri State 42,
Grand Valley State 17
Bowie State 41, West Alabama 35
Lenoir-Rhyne 43, Florida Tech 21
Tarleton State 58, Azusa Pacific 0
Texas A&M-Commerce 33,
Minnesota Duluth 17
Colorado State-Pueblo 37,
Colorado Mines 17
Ouachita Baptist 35, Indianapolis 7
Slippery Rock 59, New Haven 20
Notre Dame (Ohio) 19, Hillsdale 14
Valdosta State 66, Bowie State 16
Ferris State 27, Northwest Miss. St. 21
Lenoir-Rhyne 21, Wingate 17
Colorado State-Pueblo 10
Tarleton State 34,
Texas A&M-Commerce 28
Ouachita Baptist (12-0) vs. Ferris State (13-0), TBA
Notre Dame (Ohio) (12-0) vs. Slippery Rock (11-2), TBA
Valdosta State (11-0) vs. Lenoir-Rhyne (12-1), TBA
Minnesota-Mankato (12-0) vs. Tarleton State (12-0), TBA
At McKinney, Texas
TBD, 3 p.m.
Ouachita Baptist running back Shun’cee Thomas (right) races for a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter Saturday. Thomas ran for 98 yards on eight carries.
Ouachita Baptist defenders Oshae Pruitt (left), Gregory Junior (bottom) and Airric Parker (right) tackle Indianapolis running back Toriano Clinton during the second quarter of the Tigers’ 35-7 victory over Indianapolis in an NCAA Division II second-round playoff game Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia.
Sports on 11/25/2018
Print Headline: OBU shows off balanced attack