Harding Football Wins Ninth Straight, Advances in NCAA Division II Playoffs

HARDING FOOTBALL WINS NINTH STRAIGHT - INDIANAPOLIS (Harding) – Quarterback Terrence Dingle looked a little banged up in the fourth quarter of Harding's NCAA Division II Playoff game against the University of Indianapolis. He missed a couple of plays but came back in just in time to score the game-winning touchdown in Harding's 27-24 victory on a rainy, windy, cold, lightning-delayed Saturday at Key Stadium.

Harding (9-3) won its ninth straight and advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season. The Bisons will travel to take on Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, Saturday. Game time will be announced later. Ashland, the No. 3 seed in Super Region 3, defeated No. 6 see Northwest Missouri State 21-18.

Indianapolis (11-1), the champion of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, had the nation's longest winning streak snapped at 15 games. The Greyhounds had also won 11 straight home games.

How it Happened
Harding concluded a 17-play, 72-yard drive to score on a 5-yard Zach Shelley run on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Bisons took a 21-17 lead.

A failed on-side kick gave UIndy the ball at the HU 45. On the third play of the drive, Greyhound quarterback Jake Purichia threw a 47-yard TD pass to Malik Higgins to put UIndy back on top 24-21 with 13:38 left.

Harding forced a punt on the Greyhounds' next drive, but the 73-yard punt pinned Harding at its own 4. Harding needed only three plays to cover the 96 yards. Grant Kimberlin went 68 yards on a trap play, Chancey rushed for 3 yards, and Dingle came back into the game to score from 25 yards out.

Indianapolis still had a chance to reclaim the lead. The Greyhounds drove down to the Harding 1-yard line with less than two minutes left in the game. On second-and-goal at the 1, Harding defensive back Christian Witt stuffed Al McKeller for a 1-yard loss. A fumbled snap on third down resulted in a 4-yard loss, setting up a 23-yard field goal attempt for Brad Schickel, who had made 12 of 15 this season.

The snap on the field goal was also mishandled and a desperation pass fell incomplete. Harding took a knee on its last three plays to seal the victory.

The game also started well for the Bisons.

Harding took the opening kickoff 75 yards on 11 plays, and Dingle scored from 3 yards out to give the Bisons an early lead.

Sam Blankenship intercepted a pass on the goal line on UIndy's first possession but fumbled on the return. Three plays later Witt intercepted a pass and Harding took over at its own 30-yard line.

Harding drove 70 yards and scored on a Cole Chancey 2-yard run on fourth and goal to take a 14-0 lead.

UIndy's first touchdown came after a bit of terrible luck for the Bisons. A low punt hit Witt in the back and the Greyhounds took over at the HU 16. Indy scored three plays later on a 3-yard Al McKeller run to cut the Harding lead to 14-7.

After a Harding punt, Indy trimmed the Harding lead to 14-10 on a 27-yard field goal with 5:32 left in the half. As soon as the kick went through, game officials delayed the game due to lightning.
The delay lasted two hours, 13 minutes and play resumed at 3:58 local time.

Harding drove to the Indy 15 on its first possession after the delay, but with seven seconds remaining before halftime, Tristan Parsley's 32-yard field goal into the wind was wide right.

Indy took a 17-14 lead on a 75-yard drive to open the second half.

Facts and Figures
Harding gained 349 yards, all on the ground. The Bisons are 4-0 in its last four games when it did not complete a pass, including its last two games.

Harding has rushed for more than 4,000 yards for the fourth consecutive season.

Blankenship led Harding with eight tackles and became only the third Bison since 2000 to surpass 100 tackles in a season.

Harding had the ball for 33 minutes, 14 seconds and has won the time-of-possession battle in all 12 games this season.

Harding converted 8 of 14 third downs and has converted 35 of 53 (66 percent) third downs over the last four games.

Kimberlin rushed for a career-high 145 yards on 12 carries. Dingle rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries with two TD. Dingle has 18 rushing TD this season.

McKeller rushed for 144 yards on 26 carries with two TD to lead UIndy. Greyhound quarterback Jake Purichia completed 8 of 18 passes for 158 yards and a TD with two interceptions. He had completed 70 percent of his passes with only two interceptions all season entering the game.

Higgins led UIndy receivers with 127 yards on five receptions.

Harding


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