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story.lead_photo.caption Ouachita Baptist’s Drew Harris leaps into the end zone on an 8-yard touchdown reception Saturday during the Tigers’ victory over Indianapolis in the NCAA Division II playoffs in Arkadelphia. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

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."

Up next

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

FIRST ROUND

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

SECOND ROUND

SATURDAY’S GAMES

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

Minnesota-Mankato 24,

Colorado State-Pueblo 10

Tarleton State 34,

Texas A&M-Commerce 28

QUARTERFINALS

DEC. 1

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

SEMIFINALS

DEC. 8

TBD

CHAMPIONSHIP

DEC. 15

At McKinney, Texas

TBD, 3 p.m.

Photo by Thomas Metthe
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.
Photo by Thomas Metthe
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

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