DURANT, Okla. – Miscues and missed opportunities snowballed on Saturday afternoon as Southeastern saw its three-game winning streak snapped by No. 16 Harding in a 31-9 loss on Paul Laird Field in the home finale.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 4-5 overall on the season and 2-5 in Great American Conference play heading into the season finale against arch rival East Central on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. in Ada, Okla.
The Bisons, the third ranked team in the region, come out of the contest with an 8-1 mark overall and a 6-1 league record and will close out the year hosting Southwestern Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. Nov 10 in Searcy, Ark.
SE committed a pair of turnovers that put them in an early hole and had a pair of field goals blocked that helped keep them in that hole.
On the opening offensive play of the game Jercolby Bradley would have his pass picked off by Aaron Gillaspie and HU would march the ball 38 yards for a TD on the ensuing drive.
On the second play of the next Storm drive Gillaspie would force a Ladarius Abrams fumble that would be recovered by Josh Aldridge and the Bisons would turn that into a field goal and a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Those would be the only turnovers Southeastern committed on the day, while the defense would force HU into a pair of fumbles, but would not be able to turn either into points.
Chris Peoples had a rough night kicking the ball after making his first attempt of the game the Bisons rush would block his next two tries, each coming after the defense forced an HU turnover.
The Storm defense played well despite allowing the Bison to rush for 338 yards. They were able to limit the passing attack, allowing just two completions for 42 yards.
Simeon Stevenson led the defensive front and all defenders with eight stops, including a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Emmanual Jackson and Derek Ogg each tallied seven tackles, with Ogg adding a forced fumble.
Clay Waters turned in one of the defense's most exciting plays, picking up a fumble and returning it 40 yards before having the ball knocked loose and into the hands of Jacobi Crowley who continued it another 16 yards.
The offense on the other hand had a tough time on the day as the running game fell well below its season average, finishing with 125 yards total.
CJ Kirk led that charge with 65 yards on 16 carries, while Abrams turned in 37 yards on nine rushes. Bradley also chipped in 27 yards on seven carries.
Bradley was 6-of-9 passing for 43 yards with the one interception on the game's opening play.
He was lifted in the second half with SE trailing by two scores in favor of Nick Sioson who connected on 6-of-14 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Anthony Gale led the way with four receptions and racked up 55 yards, while Ryan Shelley had his biggest outing since suffering an early season injury with a team high 57 yards on three catches and a touchdown.
HU's John Gay opened scoring with a 27 yard field goal with 10:07 to play in the first quarter and the Bisons would push that to 10-0 a little over three minutes later when Kelvin Martin would find Donatella Luckett for a 28 yard touchdown pass.
Peoples would connect on his 19 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to cap a 16-play, 73 yard drive that lasted 7:03 and cut the deficit to 10-3 which is how the game would stand at the halftime break.
Ahmad Scott would push the HU lead to 17-3 on a seven yard run with 6:49 to play in the third quarter.
That lead would expand to 24-3 with 7:03 to play in the game when Keenan Kellett would score from one yard out.
Sioson would then lead SE down the field, covering 66 yards on six plays in 1:47 with Sioson connecting with Shelley on a 32 yard TD toss. After a missed PAT the score would sit at 24-9.
Southeastern's dream off a miracle rally would fall apart on the ensuing kickoff when People's onside kick attempt bounced right into the breadbasket of Roderick Cohn who returned it 44 yards for a touchdown with 5:01 to play that would fashion the final of 31-9.