ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Don’t be surprised if there’s a record crowd Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium for the 93rd Battle of the Ravine between host Ouachita Baptist and cross-the-street rival Henderson State.
There will be considerable bounty for the winner in this ancient series, which is tied 43-43-6. OBU is currently ranked fifth among Division II Universities, while the Reddies are 9-1. A Tiger victory guarantees a trip by Ouachita to the national playoffs. An HSU win would send the ranked Reddies to the postseason.
This storied game started in 1895, and was traditionally played on Thanksgiving Day until the series was discontinued in 1951. The Battle of the Ravine is tied for the oldest rivalry in all of NCAA DII football. It is also unique because the visiting players walk 3,696 feet from their stadium to the other.
In fact, a Henderson win might add up to three Great American Conference teams in the playoffs. Harding (9-1) will likely earn a playoff bid, too. The Reddies or Southern Arkansas appear to be the best bets for the Live United Bowl in Texarkana.
Battle of the Ravine usually up for grabs
OBU will be Saturday’s favorite, but nobody is usually a prohibited pick in the historic Battle of the Ravine.
The Tigers have been explosive offensively in 2019. They feature a three-headed monster running game, led by senior Brockton Brown. He tied a GAC record last week with four touchdowns, giving him 21 six-pointers this season. He currently sits fourth on the all-time career rushing touchdowns list at OBU with 39. Kris Oliver holds the record with 40. Tiger quarterback Brayden Brazeal has completed 76 percent of his passes.
Pleasant Grove graduate T.J. Cole has also piled up some big yardage the past few weeks. Wide receiver Allie Freeman set a GAC record last week with his 79th reception this season. He also holds the league mark for catches in a career (238), and sits fifth all time in the conference receiving yards at 2,776.
Last week’s win over UA-Monticello was just another example of the Tigers’ strength on defense. OBU dominated the Boll Weevils, 35-7.
A Reddie win could mean three-way tie in GAC
Henderson’s only loss this season was a 14-13 heart-breaker to Harding. The Reddies have won six straight game since by an average of more than 18 points.
The Tigers have won the last three games in the series, but Henderson has won three of the last four contests played at Cliff Harris Stadium. A win would give HSU coach Scott Maxfield his eighth career win over OBU, which would tie Sporty Carpenter for most all-time.
HSU’s offense matches up well with the Tigers’ explosiveness.
Receiver L’liott Curry has been the catalyst. The senior from Guthrie, Okla., leads the GAC and is eighth in the nation in receiving yards with 1,019 and touchdowns with 13. Curry has five games this season with 100-plus yards.
The Reddies’ quarterback Richard Stammetti is the third player in HSU history to throw for 5,000 yards in a career. He’s thrown for 2,556 yards and 24 touchdowns this year.
ESPN3 will broadcast the game, which is scheduled to kick off at 1:05 p.m.