Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

College football: Week 12

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

If only Arkansas’ game at Baton Rouge could have ended at halftime.

It’s those second halves that so often cause the problems in this season of discontent for Razorback fans.

In the end, the score of LSU 33, Arkansas 10 was about what most folks expected last Saturday. We’ve given up hope for Houston Nutt-style upsets in what surely is the final gasp of the Bielema era.

The loss to LSU marked the fifth time this season that Arkansas has lost by 20 or more points. This weekend could certainly make six.

LSU outgained the Hogs 425-318 as Derrius Guice rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas is now 3-11-1 in games played at Baton Rouge through the years. LSU leads the overall series 39-22-2. Austin Allen was 12 of 23 passing for 140 yards. With Cole Kelley having drunk himself out of the picture for this week, Allen will need to be even better for Arkansas to have a chance against Mississippi State in the first game of the post-Jeff Long era.

I figured I was on the verge of going 7-0 on my college picks as I drove back home to Little Rock following a glorious Battle of the Ravine afternoon in Arkadelphia. I had the radio tuned to the Arkansas State game. Even though the Red Wolves trailed South Alabama by a score of 24-19 in Mobile, they were just about to score. As quarterback Justice Hansen reached for the end zone, the ball was knocked away with 5:18 left in the game. Touchback. Hansen threw his fourth interception of the game on the final Red Wolf possession, and ASU lost its first Sun Belt Conference contest of the season.

We thus were 6-1 on the week to bring the season record to 70-18.

Here are the picks for this Saturday with all four of the Division I teams playing in the state and two of the Division II teams on the road for playoff appearances:

Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 25 — It’s another 11 a.m. kickoff. You get a lot of those when you’re bad. Arkansas (4-6, 1-5) needs to win its next two contests to qualify for a bowl game. And I’ve yet to find anyone who thinks that’s going to happen. Mississippi State gave Alabama all it could handle in Starkville on Saturday before falling 31-24. The Bulldogs are 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses were by scores of 31-3 to Georgia and 49-10 to Auburn. The seven victories have come by scores of 49-0 over Charleston Southern, 57-21 over Louisiana Tech, 37-7 over LSU, 35-10 over BYU, 45-7 over Kentucky, 35-14 over Texas A&M and 34-23 over Massachusetts.

Arkansas State 40, Texas State 20 — Look for the Red Wolves (5-3, 4-1) to bounce back this Saturday in Jonesboro against a Texas State team that’s just 2-8 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Hansen, who was 27 of 44 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to South Alabama, should have a field day against the Bobcats. Texas State’s only two victories have been by scores of 20-11 over Houston Baptist and 27-7 over Coastal Carolina. The losses have come by scores of 37-3 to Colorado, 20-13 to Appalachian State, 44-14 to Texas-San Antonio, 45-10 to Wyoming, 45-27 to Louisiana-Monroe, 24-7 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 45-35 to New Mexico State and 33-30 to Georgia State.

UCA 36, Abilene Christian 16 — The Bears secured at least a share of the Southland Conference title last Saturday with a 56-10 victory over a 1-9 Incarnate Word squad. UCA moved to 9-1 overall and 8-0 in conference play. The Bears can wrap up an outright title in Conway on Saturday with a win over an Abilene Christian team that comes to town with records of only 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the Southland Conference. The Bears outgained Incarnate Word 527-294. Expect similar numbers this Saturday. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 20 of 30 passing for 226 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win. The only two Abilene Christian victories have been by scores of 24-3 over Houston Baptist and 45-20 over Incarnate Word. The losses were by scores of 38-14 to New Mexico, 38-10 to Colorado State, 20-10 to Stephen F. Austin, 13-7 to McNeese State, 29-20 to Nicholls State, 56-21 to Southeastern Louisiana, 26-23 to Northwestern State of Louisiana and 44-35 to Sam Houston State.

UAPB 24, Texas Southern 23 — The Golden Lions play the second of two games at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium this Saturday. UAPB lost its sixth consecutive game last Saturday at Prairie View A&M by a final score of 35-12. UAPB is now 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the SWAC. Texas Southern comes to town with a 1-8 record. The only victory was by a score of 28-21 over Mississippi Valley State. The losses have been by scores of 29-7 to Florida A&M, 24-17 to Houston Baptist, 30-13 to Alabama A&M, 24-17 to Alcorn State, 48-3 to Kennesaw State, 23-16 to Alabama State, 50-24 to Grambling State and 33-7 to Southern University.

Harding 29, Indianapolis 27 — This is our upset special. Harding went 11-0 in the regular season last year and won its first two games in the 2016 NCAA Division II playoffs. The Bisons lost 18 starters off that team and began the 2017 season 0-3. Then came a remarkable turnaround that has seen Harding win its past eight games. Last Saturday, Harding went to Russellville to take on an 8-2 Arkansas Tech team that could have wrapped up a share of the Great American Conference title with a victory. The Bisons won by a final score of 24-17. This week’s playoff opponent, the University of Indianapolis, is undefeated. But it plays in a relatively weak conference and has not seen anything like Harding’s hard-to-stop double-slot offense. Harding is playing as well as any Division II team in the country right now. The UIndy victories have come by scores of 24-20 over Grand Valley State, 31-28 over Wayne State, 45-17 over Southwest Baptist, 45-38 over Hillsdale, 34-19 over Truman, 28-10 over McKendree, 55-0 over Quincy, 45-0 over Lincoln of Missouri, 42-3 over William Jewell, 43-34 over Missouri S&T and 42-27 over Notre Dame of Ohio.

Ferris State 41, Ouachita 33 — It was a memorable day for the Ouachita football program. As anyone associated with either Ouachita or Henderson can tell you, winning the Battle of the Ravine is about as big as it gets. Ouachita also won an outright GAC championship, earned a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs, moved into the Division II Top 25 and broke the nation’s longest college road winning streak (Henderson had won 31 consecutive road games). Junior Drew Harris of Benton scored all seven of the Tiger touchdowns in the 49-42 win over the Reddies. Ouachita is now 53-21 since the GAC began in 2011 and has three conference championships to go along with two trips to the playoffs. In fact, the GAC title has resided in Arkadelphia for six of the seven years (Henderson has three titles, and Harding has one). Ouachita must make the long trip to Michigan this week to take on a 9-1 Ferris State team that’s ranked 10th in the country. The lone loss came by a score of 20-3 to Ashland. The victories were by scores of 48-27 over Findlay, 42-10 over Northern Michigan, 59-17 over Wayne State, 13-3 over Tiffin, 49-17 over Saginaw Valley State, 28-27 over Grand Valley State, 24-14 over Northwood, 26-0 over Davenport and 49-7 over Michigan Tech.

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Rex’s Rankings: The final edition

Monday, November 13th, 2017

This will be our final high school football ranking of the season.

Once we get into the second week of the playoffs, it’s best to let the action on the field do the talking.

There were few changes in the rankings last week since many of the teams had byes in the first round of the playoffs.

I hope to see some of you during the first two weekends in December for state championship games at War Memorial Stadium. I plan to be at all six games.

Here are the rankings:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Greenwood
  3. Pulaski Academy
  4. Bentonville
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bryant
  7. Pine Bluff
  8. El Dorado
  9. Conway
  10. Wynne

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bentonville
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bryant
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Pine Bluff
  3. El Dorado
  4. West Memphis
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Wynne
  3. Nettleton
  4. Little Rock McClellan
  5. Alma

CLASS 4A

  1. Joe T Robinson
  2. Warren
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Pea Ridge
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Prescott

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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College football: Week 11 (Battle of the Ravine)

Monday, November 6th, 2017

It’s my favorite week of the year.

It’s time for the Battle of the Ravine. That just happens to be the greatest small college rivalry in the country, and it’s right here in Arkansas.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” really should pay a visit to Arkadelphia one of these years.

And attending a Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium.

There’s much on the line this year.

Ouachita is tied for the Great American Conference lead with Arkansas Tech and is seeking its third GAC title in seven years.

Henderson, meanwhile, has the nation’s longest road winning streak at 31 games. Yes, it’s a road game even though the Reddies only have to walk across U.S. Highway 67.

We ran the table on the picks last week, going 7-0 to improve our season record to 64-17.

Here are the picks for Week 11:

Ouachita 39, Henderson 38 — This is usually a battle to remember, and the 2017 edition should be no different. Ouachita held onto its share of the GAC lead with an amazing finish in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado. The 8-2 Tigers beat 6-4 Southern Arkansas by a final score of 45-42 in a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the final four minutes. You read that correctly: Four times in the final four minutes. SAU scored on a 23-yard pass with 3:34 left to go up 35-31. Ouachita then scored on a 47-yard pass with 2:43 remaining to go ahead 38-35. SAU scored on a nine-yard pass with 58 seconds left to retake the lead at 42-38. Ouachita scored on a 13-yard pass with 33 seconds on the clock for a 45-42 lead. A long pass into the end zone by the Muleriders on the final play was broken up. SAU had 611 yards of offense, and Ouachita had 573. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner set a school record with 533 yards passing in a losing cause. Henderson kept its road winning streak alive in Monticello. The Reddies came from behind to defeat UAM by a final score of 28-21 with two late touchdowns. Henderson is 6-4, and UAM is 5-5. The Reddies returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game and then took the lead for good with 5:51 remaining.

Harding 40, Arkansas Tech 30 — The Bisons have won seven consecutive games after starting the season 0-3. And they get better each week. If Harding can beat Tech in Russellville, and Henderson wins the Battle of the Ravine, Harding will share the title with Ouachita and Tech. Harding routed 2-8 East Central Oklahoma last Saturday by a final score of 44-13. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, have scored 40 or more points in three consecutive games. Tech cruised to a 48-10 victory over a Southeastern Oklahoma team that started the season 6-0 and has now lost four consecutive games. Wonder Boy senior Braden Stringer had 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Tech rushed for 390 yards as a team and had 535 yards of total offense.

Southern Arkansas 29, UAM 24 — Both teams are coming off losses. It has been a disappointing season for SAU, which was picked to win the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll. On the other hand, the 5-5 Boll Weevils from UAM have been better than expected. SAU’s Renner and UAM’s Cole Sears are both quality quarterbacks. This should be a close game with the slight advantage going to the home team.

LSU 37, Arkansas 25 — About the only thing one can say about the game last Saturday in Razorback Stadium is that it was a win. Remember what Houston Dale Nutt used to say: “All wins are precious.” The Razorbacks are 4-5 following the 39-38 decision over Coastal Carolina, a team that came into Fayetteville with a 1-7 record after having lost seven consecutive games. The Chanticleers led  38-25 in the fourth quarter, and we were all thinking Citadel until Arkansas scored the winning touchdown with 1:55 left. Coastal Carolina had gained just 183 yards against Texas State the previous week but had 359 yards against Arkansas. In previous games against Southeastern Conference teams, Coastal Carolina had lost by 59 points at Georgia and 60 points at South Carolina. Arkansas State beat Coastal Carolina by 34 points earlier this season. This might not be rock bottom for the Razorback football program, but you can see it from here. LSU lost to Alabama, but it was just by 14 points — 24-10, a closer game than most people had expected. The Tigers are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses came by scores of 37-7 to Mississippi State and 24-21 to Troy. The wins have been by scores of 27-0 over BYU, 45-10 over Chattanooga, 35-26 over Syracuse, 17-16 over Florida, 27-23 over Auburn and 40-24 over Ole Miss. This is not a great LSU team, but it appears to be a lot better than Arkansas.

Arkansas State 41, South Alabama 23 — Having had two weeks to prepare, the Red Wolves should roll to victory over a 3-6 South Alabama team late Saturday afternoon in Mobile. The three victories for South Alabama have been by scores of 45-0 over Alabama A&M, 19-8 over Troy and 33-23 over Louisiana-Monroe. The losses have been by scores of 47-27 to Ole Miss, 44-7 to Oklahoma State, 29-23 to Idaho, 34-16 to Louisiana Tech, 21-13 to Georgia State and 19-14 to Louisiana-Lafayette.

UCA 46, Incarnate Word 16 — The Bears are up to No. 3 in the country in FCS and should have no problem on the road in San Antonio on Saturday night against a 1-8 Incarnate Word team. UCA improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southland Conference with a 42-14 victory at Lamar last Saturday. The Bears ran off 35 unanswered points beginning in the second quarter. UCA had 565 yards of offense and held Lamar to just 279 yards. Lamar (1-8, 0-7) had only 26 yards rushing. Two regular-season games remain for UCA, and those two teams are a combined 3-15. In other words, the Bears appear headed for an undefeated regular season and the outright Southland Conference title. Incarnate Word’s lone victory was by a score of 33-24 over Lamar. The losses have come by scores of 66-0 to Fresno State, 56-22 to Sacramento State, 37-31 to Stephen F. Austin, 45-20 to Abilene Christian, 49-30 to Southeastern Louisiana, 55-7 to McNeese, 38-31 to Nicholls and 57-20 to Sam Houston State.

Prairie View A&M 18, UAPB 10 — A year ago, UAPB lost 70-0 to Grambling State. There was much improvement this year, but it was still a loss — 31-26 in Pine Bluff to drop the Golden Lions to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the SWAC. UAPB has now lost five consecutive games. The Golden Lions travel to Texas this week take on a 3-5 Prairie View A&M team. The three Prairie View victories have been by scores of 34-0 over Alabama State, 38-9 over Jackson State and 34-17 over Bacone. The five losses have been by scores of 44-31 to Sam Houston State, 44-13 to Nicholls, 34-21 to Grambling, 34-21 to Alcorn State and 37-31 to Southern University.

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Rex’s Rankings: The playoffs begin

Monday, November 6th, 2017

The regular season has ended.

The big game of Week 10 was in Bentonville as Bentonville High School defeated Bentonville West High School, 37-28. Both teams have the talent to win a state championship in Class 7A, though we’ll keep North Little Rock atop the rankings for now.

Greenwood remains the clear favorite in Class 6A, and Pulaski Academy remains a solid favorite in Class 5A.

There’s a new No. 1 team in Class 4A following Pea Ridge’s 17-14 loss to Shiloh Christian last Friday night. That new No. 1 is 10-0 Joe T. Robinson, which ended the regular season with a 48-6 victory over Mena.

Here are the rankings at the end of the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Greenwood
  3. Pulaski Academy
  4. Bentonville
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bryant
  7. Pine Bluff
  8. El Dorado
  9. Conway
  10. Little Rock Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bentonville
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bryant
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Pine Bluff
  3. El Dorado
  4. West Memphis
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Wynne
  4. Watson Chapel
  5. Nettleton

CLASS 4A

  1. Joe T. Robinson
  2. Warren
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Pea Ridge
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Glen Rose

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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College football: Week 10

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

We predicted last week that the Razorbacks would beat Ole Miss by one point, and the Hogs did just that.

We also correctly stated that it would be a close game between two bad teams that easily could go either way.

It didn’t appear that would be the case as Arkansas fell behind 31-7 early in the second quarter. It was the largest comeback in school history and the first time in the Bret Bielema era for an Arkansas team to win after trailing at halftime. Bielema-coached teams are now 1-18 when trailing at the half.

Thus the Hogs (3-5, 1-4) ended their seven-game losing streak against Power 5 teams that dated back to last November. Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4) proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a Razorback team that had lost its previous three Southeastern Conference games by a combined score of 141-51.

It will be even more of what the doctor ordered this Saturday afternoon as Coastal Carolina rolls into Fayetteville for the homecoming game.

We were 7-1 on the picks last week to bring the season record to 57-17. We’re 24-3 during the previous three weeks with two of the missed predictions being the result of a 5-4 Henderson team that no one can figure out. First, Henderson lost at home to an East Central Oklahoma squad that came to Arkadelphia with a 1-6 record. A week later, Henderson upset a Southern Arkansas team that was tied for the Great American Conference lead.

With SAU’s 36-30 loss to Henderson and Southeastern Oklahoma’s 42-3 loss to Harding, there are now just two teams rather than four tied for the GAC lead. They’re Ouachita and Arkansas Tech.

Both the Tigers and the Wonder Boys have tough games this week as 7-2 Ouachita battles 6-3 Southern Arkansas at a neutral location in El Dorado and 7-2 Arkansas Tech takes on 6-3 Southeastern Oklahoma in Russellville.

A week later, Tech gets Harding (which is playing better than anyone in the conference right now) in Russellville, and Ouachita hosts Henderson at Cliff Harris Stadium in the Battle of the Ravine. That’s all to say that five schools still have a realistic shot of winning a share of the GAC title with just two weeks remaining in the season.

Here are the picks for Week 10:

Arkansas 49, Coastal Carolina 19 — Coastal Carolina posted a 38-28 win over Massachusetts in its opener and has since lost seven consecutive games — 30-23 to UAB, 52-10 to Western Illinois, 51-43 to Louisiana-Monroe, 27-21 to Georgia State, 51-17 to Arkansas State, 37-29 to Appalachian State and 27-7 to Texas State. Arkansas will tune up for a stretch run of games against LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. Even with a victory over Coastal Carolina, the Hogs will need to win two of the final three to make it into a bowl game. Bret Bielema’s future is still very much up in the air.

UCA 50, Lamar 17 — It should be easy sledding for the Bears in Beaumont this Saturday night against a 1-7 Lamar squad. UCA improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the Southland Conference with a 47-17 victory in Conway last week over a strong McNeese State team that had entered the game with records of 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. UCA gets better with each passing week. Bear quarterback Hayden Hildebrand completed 12 of 16 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Cowboys. Lamar’s only victory this season came against Texas-Permian Basin. The losses have been by scores of 59-14 to North Texas, 35-28 to Northwestern State of Louisiana, 49-21 to Southeastern Louisiana, 41-14 to Nicholls, 33-24 to Incarnate Word, 63-27 to Sam Houston State and 34-7 to Stephen F. Austin.

Grambling 40, UAPB 14 — UAPB hung around for the longest last Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock before falling 47-40 to Southern University. The Golden Lions, who dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the SWAC, trailed 34-14 at halftime but got to within eight points at 40-32 early in the fourth quarter. The UAPB losing streak likely will extend to five games this Saturday afternoon when Grambling rolls into Pine Bluff with records of 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the SWAC. The only Tiger loss came by a score of 43-14 to Tulane in the season opener. Grambling has since posted victories of 23-10 over Northwestern State of Louisiana, 36-21 over Jackson State, 38-6 over Mississippi Valley State, 31-20 over Clark Atlanta, 34-21 over Prairie View A&M, 41-14 over Alcorn State and 50-24 over Texas Southern.

Ouachita 35, SAU 33 — With Ouachita leading a much-improved UAM team by just six points, 20-14, at the half last Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia, most of those in attendance thought the game might come down to the final possession. Ouachita then played its best half of the season and won going away, 55-21. The Tigers had 554 yards of offense, including 398 yards on the ground. They scored on five consecutive possessions in the second half to remain tied with Tech atop the GAC. On the other side of U.S. Highway 67 that Saturday afternoon, Southern Arkansas was being upset by a Henderson team that had lost five consecutive home games dating back to last season’s Battle of the Ravine. Southern Arkansas was the preseason pick to win the conference and must secure a victory over Ouachita in El Dorado on Saturday to retain any hope of earning a share of the title. What’s known as the Murphy USA Classic should be a highly entertaining game since both teams have plenty of offensive weapons.

Henderson 32, UAM 28 — Both Henderson and UAM have 5-4 records. But the Reddies have the nation’s longest road winning streak at 30 games, and they’re on the road in Monticello this week. Henderson, which won three of the first five GAC championships, is feeling better about itself after the win over SAU. The Reddies trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, but Reddie senior quarterback Evan Lassiter threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter. He was 16 of 24 passing on the afternoon for 213 yards.

Harding 55, East Central Oklahoma 13 — No one is slowing down the Bisons these days. After losing their first three games of the season, they’ve now won six consecutive contests. Last week’s 42-3 win over Southeastern Oklahoma in Durant marked the third consecutive week that the Harding defense had held an opponent without a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Harding offense had a season-high 591 total yards. East Central is 2-7 following last Saturday’s 38-10 loss to Arkansas Tech. Harding can practically name the score in this one.

Arkansas Tech 38, Southeastern Oklahoma 30 — Tech won its third consecutive game last Saturday while outgaining East Central Oklahoma 425-316. Wonder Boy senior quarterback Ty Reasnor was 24 of 35 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Tech hosts a Southeastern Oklahoma team that won its first six games and has since dropped three consecutive contests. Expect that losing streak to go to four in Russellville on Saturday afternoon.

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Rex’s Rankings: The final week of the season

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

We’ve reached the final week of the regular season in high school football.

Given the fact that Bryant was missing its quarterback, it came as no surprise last week that North Little Rock defeated the Hornets, who fall out of the No. 1 spot.

North Little Rock now moves into the No. 1 position overall and in Class 7A.

In Class 6A, the big surprise was not necessarily the fact that Pine Bluff beat West Memphis. It was the 26-point margin of victory at 33-7. The Zebras are rolling now, though Greenwood is still a solid No. 1 in Class 6A.

Here are the rankings after nine weeks of the high school football season:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Greenwood
  3. Pulaski Academy
  4. Bentonville West
  5. Bentonville
  6. Bryant
  7. Conway
  8. Pine Bluff
  9. El Dorado
  10. Little Rock Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bentonville West
  3. Bentonville
  4. Bryant
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Pine Bluff
  3. El Dorado
  4. West Memphis
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Nettleton
  4. Wynne
  5. Watson Chapel

CLASS 4A

  1. Pea Ridge
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Warren
  4. Arkadelphia
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Glen Rose

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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College football: Week 9

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

There’s not much left to say about the Razorbacks.

Let me make this point since we make picks for all 10 of the NCAA Division I and Division II schools in the state: There’s a lot of good college football being played in Arkansas this year.

There are 10 non-Power 5 NCAA programs in the state. They have a combined record of 48-26 at this point in the season.

Five of the 10 are at least tied for the lead in their conferences.

Eight of the 10 have winning records.

You disgruntled Razorback fans really should try catching games in Jonesboro, Conway, Arkadelphia, Magnolia, Monticello, Pine Bluff, Searcy or Russellville. You might enjoy yourselves.

We were 8-1 on the picks last week, missing only on Henderson’s homecoming loss in Arkadelphia to an East Central Oklahoma team that came to town with a 1-6 record. The Reddies have the longest road winning streak in the country at 30 games. But they’ve lost their past five home games. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in college football.

The record for the season is now 50-16.

On to the picks for Week 9:

Arkansas 29, Ole Miss 28 — These are two programs in disarray. I’ll probably regret picking the Hogs, but the Ole Miss problems seem even deeper that what Arkansas is experiencing at this time. The Rebels (3-4, 1-3) lost quarterback Shea Patterson in the 40-24 loss to LSU in Oxford last Saturday night. Patterson had come into the game leading the Southeastern Conference in passing yardage. The Tigers’ Derrius Guice gashed the Rebel defense for 276 rushing yards. Arkansas (2-5, 0-4) appeared listless in the second half of a 52-20 loss to Auburn in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have now lost seven consecutive games to Power 5 opponents. Auburn scored on its first three possessions of the second half to turn a 17-6 halftime lead into a rout. Arkansas is 0-4 in the SEC for a fifth time since joining the league in 1992. Auburn had 629 yards of offense, topping 600 yards against Arkansas for a second consecutive year. With both Arkansas and Ole Miss struggling, this one is hard to pick. The Ole Miss wins have been by scores of 47-27 over South Alabama, 45-23 over Tennessee-Martin and 57-35 over Vanderbilt. In addition to last Saturday’s loss to LSU, there have been losses by scores of 27-16 to California, 66-3 to Alabama and 44-23 to Auburn.

Arkansas State 41, New Mexico State 30 — The Red Wolves are rolling. In the 47-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Jonesboro on Thursday night, quarterback Justice Hansen had 396 yards of offense. He rushed for 121 yards and was 23 of 37 passing for 275 yards. The Red Wolves (4-2, 3-0) posted their largest margin of victory in Sun Belt Conference play since 2012. The Arkansas State defense scored for a second consecutive game. New Mexico State is 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play. In addition to the 42-24 loss to Arkansas, New Mexico State has lost 37-31 to Arizona State, 27-24 to Troy and 45-31 to Appalachian State. The three victories have come by scores of 30-28 over New Mexico, 41-14 over UTEP and 35-27 over Georgia Southern.

UCA 34, McNeese State 32 — It’s showdown time again in the Southland Conference. UCA is 6-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play. McNeese State comes to town with records of 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Cowboys’ lone loss was to Nicholls State in the opener by a score of 37-35. The six consecutive victories since then have come by scores of 42-21 over Florida Tech, 34-27 over Alcorn State, 27-12 over Houston Baptist, 35-0 over Stephen F. Austin, 13-7 over Abilene Christian and 55-7 over Incarnate Word. The Bears already have had a huge home victory over Sam Houston State but must survive another strong challenge in Conway this Saturday night. UCA went on the road to Louisiana last Saturday night and waited out two lengthy weather delays before completing a 45-17 victory over Northwestern State. The game was tied 10-10 in the second quarter before the Bears pulled away. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 12 of 20 passing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Carlos Blackman rushed 23 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears.

Southern 33, UAPB 12 — The Golden Lions (2-5, 1-2) have had two weeks to prepare for this Saturday afternoon’s game at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, but it might not matter against a Southern University team that appears to have superior athletes. The Jaguars are 3-3 with victories of 14-8 over South Carolina State, 35-14 over Alabama A&M and 35-17 over Jackson State. The losses have come by scores of 45-0 to Southern Mississippi, 51-17 to Texas-San Antonio and 48-31 to Alcorn State.

Ouachita 45, UAM 43 — It’s questionable whether Ouachita can stop UAM’s passing attack. It’s equally questionable whether UAM can stop Ouachita’s rushing game. This should be a highly entertaining, high-scoring game at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon. Ouachita is tied for the conference lead at 6-2 with three other schools — Southern Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Southeastern Oklahoma. UAM is right behind at 5-3. Ouachita rolled at home last Saturday afternoon in a 52-14 victory over 0-8 Oklahoma Baptist. The Tigers had six rushing touchdowns, an interception returned for a touchdown and 632 yards of offense in that game. In Monticello, meanwhile, UAM posted a 35-23 victory over 3-4 Southern Nazarene. Boll Weevil quarterback Cole Sears was eight of 14 passing for 127 yards and three touchdowns.

Southern Arkansas 24, Henderson 15 — The Reddies remain hard to figure out with their 30 consecutive road wins and their five consecutive home losses. Unfortunately for them, they’re back home in Arkadelphia this Saturday afternoon. The Reddies fell 24-16 to East Central Oklahoma after having trailed 24-3 at the half. In Magnolia last Saturday, SAU trounced the team that had been alone in first, Southeastern Oklahoma. The 49-19 defeat marked Southeastern’s second consecutive loss. The Savage Storm had been upset by Henderson in Durant the previous week. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 20 of 31 passing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. The Muleriders had 572 yards of offense and held Southeastern to 284 yards. The SAU ground game was paced by Michael Nunnery with 112 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Arkansas Tech 40, East Central Oklahoma 26 — The Wonder Boys will attempt to hang onto their share of the GAC lead against East Central in Ada. Tech beat  3-5 Northwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 66-10 last Saturday in Russellville. It was the largest margin of victory for Tech since beating Ozarks (which dropped football later in the decade) 60-0 in 1960. Tech had 309 yards of rushing against Northwestern.

Harding 38, Southeastern Oklahoma 22 — The Bisons are playing better than anyone in the conference right now. They started 0-3, and then the youngsters grew up. The fifth consecutive victory came last Saturday by a score of 42-0 over 2-6 Southwestern Oklahoma. It was also the second consecutive shutout for Harding, which started the game with two safeties and a 4-0 lead. Harding outrushed Southwestern 272-87. This will be the third consecutive loss for Southeastern after having started the season 6-0.

 

 

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Rex’s Rankings: After eight weeks

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

For some of the top-ranked teams in the state, Friday was all about survival.

Pulaski Academy — considered by many to be unbeatable — survived at War Memorial Stadium when a last-second field goal gave the Bruins a 43-40 victory over Little Rock Parkview.

Little Rock Christian — ranked just behind Pulaski Academy in Class 5A — survived against Little Rock McClellan by a final score of 22-19.

By the way, isn’t it nice to see the Little Rock School District fielding two highly competitive football teams this year?

Bryant, ranked first overall in the state but missing its quarterback due to injury, went to Cabot and survived by a final score of 17-10.

The biggest game to this point in the season in Class 7A will occur this Friday night when No. 1 Bryant hosts No. 2 North Little Rock.

And the biggest game to this point in Class 6A will occur when No 2 West Memphis visits No. 3 Pine Bluff.

Both games should be fun to watch.

Here are the updated rankings with just two weeks remaining in the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Greenwood
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bentonville
  7. Conway
  8. West Memphis
  9. Pine Bluff
  10. El Dorado

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bentonville
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Pine Bluff
  4. El Dorado
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Nettleton
  4. Wynne
  5. Little Rock McClellan

CLASS 4A

  1. Pea Ridge
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Warren
  4. Arkadelphia
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Glen Rose

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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College football: Week 8

Monday, October 16th, 2017

A wounded band of Auburn Tigers will play in Fayetteville on Saturday, but the Razorbacks simply don’t appear to have the firepower in 2017 to hang with Gus Malzahn & Co.

Last Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama went 75 yards for a score on its first play from scrimmage, and the game was over for all practical purposes.

Alabama 41, Arkansas 9.

That’s about what everyone expected, and let’s not start with the moral victory, silver lining stuff. We’ll leave that to the likes of Vanderbilt.

Alabama (7-0, 4-0) outgained Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) 496-227 in total yardage and 308-27 on the ground. The Tide averaged 7.8 yards per play, and Arkansas averaged 3.2 yards. Alabama has now scored five times on its first play from scrimmage in the Nick Saban era.

Arkansas is 4-19 through the years against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. Alabama, meanwhile, is 70-11 when ranked No. 1. Alabama has played Arkansas five times when atop the AP poll and won all five of those games.

Since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, Arkansas has started 0-3 in SEC play eight times. This was the 11th consecutive loss to Alabama and the sixth consecutive loss by Arkansas to a Power 5 opponent. Saban last lost to Arkansas in the 2002 Miracle on Markham when he was the head coach at LSU.

Arkansas should be able to stay in the game much longer at home against Auburn. But a victory for the Hogs is probably too much to expect in a season that unraveled early.

We were 9-1 on the picks last week. Only UAPB let us down, and this might have been the low point of the Monte Coleman era as the Golden Lions fell to an 0-6 Central State team out of Ohio before a large homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff. UAPB had lost the previous week to a Mississippi Valley State team that also came into the game winless. The Golden Lions are now 2-5 and might have a hard time winning another one.

We did successfully predict that all six Arkansas teams from the Great American Conference would defeat the six GAC teams from Oklahoma even though the six games were in Oklahoma. That included picking Henderson’s upset victory at Southeastern Oklahoma.

After a crazy start to the season, I’ve been expecting the cream to rise to the top in the GAC, and the cream tends to be the Arkansas teams.

Ouachita, Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas are 5-2.

Harding, Henderson and UAM are 4-3.

This is the year that 9-2 likely will win the conference outright.

The record is now 42-15 on our picks for the season. Here are the picks for Week 8:

Auburn 31, Arkansas 21 — Auburn led LSU 20-0 in the first half at Baton Rouge, but the visiting team’s offense disappeared after that. LSU closed the margin to nine points at 23-14 by halftime and then shut Auburn out in the second half. Auburn had won four games in a row since losing to the defending national champions from Clemson by a final score of 14-6. Auburn now finds itself 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Auburn only had 64 yards of offense in the second half. Look for the Hogs to hang around for at least three quarters this Saturday night.

Arkansas State 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 27 — This is a Thursday night game in Jonesboro. ASU improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference last Saturday night in Jonesboro with a 51-17 rout of Coastal Carolina (1-5, 0-3), which will play Arkansas in Fayetteville later this year. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdown passes to tie the single-game record he had already tied against UAPB earlier this season. Hansen has 19 touchdown passes in just five games. With six more, he will break the school record set by Fredi Knighten in 2014. Hansen was 24 of 37 passing for 286 yards against Coastal Carolina. Louisiana-Lafayette is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The wins have come by scores of 51-48 over Southeastern Louisiana, 21-16 over Idaho and 24-7 over Texas State. The loses were by scores of 66-42 to Tulsa, 45-21 to Texas A&M and 56-50 to Louisiana-Monroe in two overtimes.

UCA 40, Northwestern State 19 — The Bears maintained their Top 10 ranking in the FCS in Conway on Saturday night with a victory over Stephen F. Austin, but it didn’t come without a struggle. UCA had to come from behind late in the fourth quarter to beat SFA, 24-20. The Lumberjacks (2-5, 2-3) are coached by former UCA head man Clint Conque. UCA (5-1, 4-0) is the only one-loss college team in the state. Bear quarterback Hayden Hildebrand didn’t have his best night. He threw three interceptions after having thrown just two total in the first five games. But Hildebrand led the Bears on the winning drive, which ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Roman Gordon with 1:30 left. It was the first time UCA had trailed in the second half since the season-opening loss to Kansas State, and the Bears responded. This Saturday’s road game in Louisiana shouldn’t be as challenging. Northwestern is 1-5 with the only victory having come by a final score of 35-28 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 52-24 to Louisiana Tech, 23-10 to Grambling State, 49-20 to Southeastern Louisiana, 14-10 to Nicholls State and 40-36 to Sam Houston State.

Henderson 29, East Central Oklahoma 10 — The Reddies did the rest of the conference a favor by going to Durant and handing Southeastern Oklahoma its first defeat after six consecutive Savage Storm victories to start the season. Henderson thus extends the nation’s longest road winning streak to 30 games with that 21-20 victory. The Reddies have lost four consecutive road games dating back to last year’s Battle of the Ravine, but expect them to end that streak against a 1-6 East Central team. In the win over Southeastern, Evan Lassiter was 28 of 46 passing for the Reddies for 316 yards. The Reddies relied heavily on the pass as 357 of their 397 yards of total offense came through the air.

Ouachita 34, Oklahoma Baptist 14 — The Tigers struggled on the road last Thursday night before defeating a vastly improved 3-4 Southern Nazarene squad that had defeated both Harding and Henderson earlier in the season. Trailing 14-13, Ouachita scored in the fourth quarter on a 67-yard pass from Austin Warford of Malvern to Drew Harris of Benton. The Tigers then converted a two-point conversion to win 21-14. Ouachita should have a bit easier time of it Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia against an 0-7 Oklahoma Baptist team.

Harding 49, Southwestern Oklahoma 28 — The Bisons are on a roll. The defending GAC champions started the season 0-3, but then all of those first-time starters figured out what they were doing. The Bisons have won four consecutive games and get stronger each week. Harding shut out 3-4 Northwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 34-0 in Alva on Saturday. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, outrushed the Rangers 408-83.

UAM 22, Southern Nazarene 20 — As noted, Southern Nazarene is much improved (the Crimson Storm is 3-0 on the road) and should give the Boll Weevils all they can handle on homecoming afternoon in Monticello. UAM is now 4-3 after dropping Oklahoma Baptist to 0-7 with a 64-21 victory in Shawnee. UAM outgained its opponent 590-367. Cole Sears passed for 251 yards and five touchdowns for the Weevils.

Arkansas Tech 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Wonder Boys, who won their first four games and moved to No. 11 in the national rankings, ended a two-game losing skid with a 38-21 victory over 2-5 Southwestern Oklahoma at Weatherford. Braden Stringer rushed for 111 yards for the Wonder Boys, and Ty Reasnor passed for 211 yards.

Southern Arkansas 30, Southeastern Oklahoma 26 — Despite the loss to Henderson, Southeastern remains alone in first in the conference at 6-1. The Muleriders can change all of that in Magnolia on Saturday afternoon. SAU struggled a bit before dropping East Central Oklahoma to 1-6 with a 35-28 win last Saturday at Ada. Barrett Renner passed for 176 yards for the Muleriders. SAU outgained East Central 217-53 on the ground.

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Rex’s Rankings: After seven weeks

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Week 7 was the one that saw two No. 1 teams go down.

Prairie Grove, No. 1 in Class 4A, lost 26-21 to Pea Ridge.

Prescott, No. 1 in Class 3A, lost 37-27 to Glen Rose.

Pea Ridge is now No. 1 in Class 4A, and Charleston is No. 1 in Class 3A

Here are the rankings with just three weeks remaining in the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Greenwood
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bentonville
  7. Conway
  8. Springdale
  9. West Memphis
  10. Pine Bluff

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bentonville
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Pine Bluff
  4. El Dorado
  5. Benton

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Nettleton
  4. Little Rock McClellan
  5. Wynne

CLASS 4A

  1. Pea Ridge
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Warren
  4. Arkadelphia
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Glen Rose

CLASS 2A

  1. Rison
  2. Mount Ida
  3. Danville
  4. Conway Christian
  5. Earle

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