GAC race comes down to final on Saturday

By STAFF REPORTS
This article was published November 11, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

The Great American Conference football championship is staying in Arkansas but might be celebrated at up to three schools.

The last Saturday of the regular season finds co-leaders Arkansas Tech and Ouachita Baptist at home, both 8-2 overall and in the GAC and one game ahead of defending champion Harding.

OBU plays Henderson State at Cliff Harris Stadium with the Tigers bidding for at least a share of the school's third GAC football championship. Henderson, in a three-way tie at 6-4, can only play the spoiler's role and seeks to extend its NCAA Division II record of 31 consecutive road wins. Kickoff in Arkadelphia is 1 p.m.

Harding goes to Russellville for a 2 p.m. game with Arkansas Tech, which like Ouachita has won four in a row. Harding is the league's hottest team, winning seven consecutive after an 0-3 start and beating OBU in Arkadelphia. With a victory at Thone Stadium and help from Henderson, the Bisons can claim a share of the GAC title after winning it outright last year.

Ouachita comes off a 45-42 thriller against preseason conference favorite Southern Arkansas in the Murphy USA Classic in El Dorado. The teams combined for 35 points in the last 10:19 with four touchdowns in the last 3:34, Lucas Reed passing 13 yards to Allie Freeman for the winning score with 33 seconds left. Reed and injured starting quarterback Austin Warford combined for 280 yards passing and four touchdowns. Freeman had eight catches for 121 yards and three scores.

Arkansas Tech last week handed Southeastern Oklahoma its fourth consecutive defeat, 48-10 in Russellville, with Braden Stringer running for a career-high 230 yards and four touchdowns. Chris Eastburn, a junior fullback from Lake Hamilton, scored Tech's first touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Ty Reasnor early in the first quarter as the Wonder Boys went up 31-0.

Harding rolled up more than 500 yards offensively and had two takeaways that turned into touchdowns in last week's 44-13 win over visiting East Central. The Bisons rushed for 445 yards and kept the ball more than 33 minutes, putting together three straight long scoring drives after East Central pulled within 23-13 in the third quarter.

Elsewhere in the GAC today, Arkansas-Monticello (5-5) goes to Magnolia for a 2 p.m. game with Southern Arkansas (6-4).

Volleyball: Arkansas Tech takes a 32-0 record into the Great American Conference volleyball tournament next week in Hot Springs.

The eight-team, single-elimination event starts Thursday with semifinals Friday and the championship match Nov. 18, all at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.

Arkansas Tech rallied from a set down to defeat Ouachita Baptist 3-2 in both teams' regular-season finale Thursday at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. The Golden Suns took the fourth game 25-18 and the fifth game 15-12, going 16-0 for its fourth GAC regular-season title.

Lake Hamilton redshirt junior Kori Bullard had 10 kills and 6 blocks for OBU against Tech. Lexie Johnston led Tech with 19 kills, Hunter Eshnaur and Tabitha Spray each adding 14. Amanda Milnick recoreded 53 assists and Madison Nagel 26 digs for the Golden Suns.

Harding, Oklahoma Baptist and Northwestern Oklahoma also were seeded before their final matches with Ouachita, Southeastern Oklahoma, Southwestern Oklahoma and Henderson State completing the top eight.

Southern Nazarene won the GAC tournament last year after Harding and Ouachita shared the regular-season championship. Arkansas Tech, coached by Kristy Bayer, seeks its fourth GAC tournament crown.

Sports on 11/11/2017
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