David Noblett, Director of Athletics Communications
SEARCY, Ark. — A lot can happen in two weeks. Maybe not as much can happen in a minute, but what happened in the final minute Saturday, and in the last two weeks for Southern Nazarene, may have changed the course of path for Crimson Storm football.
SNU had not won back-to-back games since joining Division II, but that changed after a 28-27 win over Harding.
The Crimson Storm (2-1, 2-1 GAC) trailed the Bisons (0-3, 0-3 GAC) trailed 27-14 with just 3:47 left to play. SNU faced a third-and-16 early in the drive when Jackson Hopking hit Reid Roelofs for a 16-yard gain and a first down. The Storm though got pushed to a third-and-15 and a then fourth-and-7 in the drove, but Harding had a holding penalty called to give the Storm a first down. After Zach Walker was hit in the backfield on the first down, Hopking again found some magic when he hit Roelofs for a 23-yard pass to set up a first-and-10 from the Harding 16-yard line. The next place Hopking hit Walker to cut to the score to 27-21 with just 49 seconds to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, SNU recovered an odd bounce of the ball on an on-side kick and started a drive from their own 46-yard line. A Bison personal foul moved the ball to the HU 39. On the next play, Roelofs was in the right place at the right time when he caught a deflected pass from Hopking and took it in for the game-winning touchdown.
Hopking finished with 106 yards passing and two touchdowns. He was 7-for-9 on the night and ran for 20 yards. Jacob Spady threw for 38 yards and ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Roelofs had 90 yards receiving and two touchdowns on four catches. Reese Carlson and Walker each had four catches for 23 yards.
SNU as a team had 265 yards with 144 coming through the air and 121 on the ground. The Bisons outgained the Storm with 382 total yards with 338 on the ground. Harding passed for just 44 yards.
Breyon Jackson had a game-high nine tackles while Josh Jordan and Trystan Slinker each had eight. Jackson and Jordan each forced a fumble while Jordan notched an interception. Trevor Hartman also recorded an interception.
All 28 of SNU’s points came in the second half. Down 14-0 to start the third quarter, Spady put the Storm on the board with 8:41 left in the quarter with a 15-yard run. That capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive as SNU trailed 14-7. Harding pushed it to 21-7 with 5:39 left in the quarter, but Spady found Roelofs for a 12-yard strike that ended 4-play, 5-yard drive that came off an botched punt from Harding. SNU trailed 21-14 heading into the fourth, but a pair of field goals gave the Bisons the 27-14 lead with 3:57 to play.
It is the first time SNU has had a winning record since the 2011 season.